IMD’s World Competitiveness Center’s latest report on global economic competitiveness gives leaders guidance for navigating a “fragmented” world.
Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, Singapore and the Netherlands are the five most competitive countries in the world according to the World Competitiveness Index 2023 from the World Competitiveness Center (WCC) of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
Greece is in the 49th place, having fallen two places since 2022. That year it had fallen another place compared to 2021.
Cyprus in is the 45th place in the 2023 ranking having fallen five places since 2022.
Last on the list, in 64th place is Venezuela, while Argentina, Mongolia, South Africa and Botswana are further behind.
Commenting on the results, Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the WCC, said, “An increasing number of countries are pursuing their own interests. We are seeing winners and losers in a context in which multiple crises are overlapping and the world is increasingly divided between protectionist and open-trade economies.”
Christos Cabolis, the WCC’s Chief Economist, explained, “Navigating today’s unpredictable environment requires agility and adaptability. Countries which excel are building resilient economies, such as Ireland, Iceland, and Bahrain. Their governments are also able to adapt policies based on current economic conditions in a timely fashion. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Singapore are also key examples of this.”
Denmark’s top position is based on its continuous achievements across all four competitiveness factors measured. It remains first in business efficiency and second in infrastructure, and shows slightly improved results in government efficiency, going to fifth from sixth.
Another factor measured in the ranking is economic performance. Ireland’s sharp rise is largely the result of its stellar performance in this factor, where it rose from seventh to first.
Switzerland retains third place thanks to its strong performance across all competitiveness factors measured. It remains first for government efficiency and infrastructure, ranks seventh in business efficiency (a decline from fourth), and improves in economic performance (up to 18th from 30th).
The 2023 results also highlight how economies late to open up after the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to see improvements in their competitiveness (e.g., Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia). Those early to open up are now witnessing declines (such as Sweden and Finland).
Europe dominated the rankings, as it did in 2022, with five economies in the top ten. In addition to smaller, more competitive economies tend to have strong and effective institutions. “ A country’s ability to create prosperity for its people is a determining factor in success. Its’s not what China does yet and its not what the US even does fully yet, said Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the WCC.
In the top 10, Singapore dropped one position to fourth, the Netherlands moved up one place to fifth (from sixth), Taiwan, China gained one spot (up to sixth from seventh), and Hong Kong SAR fell to seventh (from fifth). The USA improved one place to ninth, and the UAE went up two places to take tenth.
The ranking is a valuable tool for evaluating highly contrasting business environments, for supporting international investment decisions, and for assessing the impact of various public policies. It serves managers and policy makers alike and is an indicator of the quality of life in each country it assesses, for which it depends on the support of a network of 57 local Partner Institutes.
It is based on a mixture of hard data – 164 competitiveness criteria selected as a result of comprehensive research using economic literature, international, national, and regional sources, plus feedback from the business community, government agencies, and academics – and 92 survey questions answered by 6,400 senior executives. Hard data accounts for two thirds of the overall ranking results, whereas the survey data represents one third.
Kuwait is the latest economy to join the ranking, making its début in 2023.