Australia ranked 18th in the world for global competitiveness as Singapore inches out US for top spot

Singapore. Source: Getty.
  • Australia ranks 18th out of 63 countries on the world competitiveness ranking compiled by Swiss business school IMD.
  • The ranking is one place higher than the 17th spot Australia was awarded in 2018, but overall Australia is stalled on the list, having fluctuated between 17th and 21st in recent years.
  • Singapore took out first place on the ranking, followed by Hong Kong, US, Switzerland and the UAE.

Australia has risen one place in the world competitiveness ranking researched and released by Swiss business school IMD, achieving 18th place on the 2019 list, up from 19th in 2018.

Accompanying documents suggest Australia has a number of strengths, including being ranked 1st in the world for its country credit rating as well as “student mobility”, 3rd in the world on the “human development index”, 5th for the “resilience of the economy” and 7th for the “efficiency of…the stockmarket”.

Weaknesses include “export concentration by partner”, where Australia is ranked 56th in the world presumably due to the economy’s reliance on China, as well as “entrepreneurship” (ranked 57th), “corporate tax rate on profit” (51st) and “energy infrastructure” (55th).

Singapore took first place on the overall ranking, followed by Hong Kong, USA, Switzerland, UAE, The Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Qatar.

In a statement on the business school’s website, IMD professor Arturo Bris said political uncertainty was taking its toll on European rankings, while the Asia-Pacific outperformed in 2019.

“In a year of high uncertainty in global markets due to rapid changes in the international political landscape as well as trade relations, the quality of institutions seem to be the unifying element for increasing prosperity,” Bris said.

The ranking is based on 340 business competitiveness criteria, with two thirds of the criteria relying on statistical indicators analysed by IMD researchers and one third based on a survey of more than 6,000 global executives conducted in March and April this year.

Commenting on the findings, non-partisan think-tank the Committee for Economic Development of Australia said there are a few keys to unlocking a higher place for Australia on the IMD ranking.

“Failure to reduce the company tax rate, bracket creep, stalled energy policy and lacklustre productivity have been identified as weaknesses in Australia’s competitiveness in these latest rankings,” CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento said in a statement.

“If the recent federal election told us anything, it is that Australians value economic strength. These rankings show we have a very solid base. Our solid economic base and the new term of federal parliament provide the perfect opportunity to tackle key policy areas holding us back.”

The previous Coalition government dumped plans to reduce the corporate tax rate under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership in November 2018. Instead its 2019 federal election campaign focused on personal tax cuts and corporate tax cuts for small and medium enterprises.

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