DOHA: Qatar topped the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in the global competitiveness ranking index compiled by World Economic Forum.
The 2013-14 Global Competitiveness Report’s index, that placed Switzerland at the top of the ranking, ranked Qatar 13th on the global list, while the UAE stood at 19th. Saudi Arabia fell two places and ranked 20th.
“Qatar reaffirms once again its position as the most competitive economy in the region at the 13th position. The country’s strong performance in terms of competitiveness rests on solid foundations made up of a high-quality institutional framework”, the Forum index released yesterday noted.
In the index, Qatar ranked 4th place in the competitiveness of “institutional framework” globally and ranked 6th in the ‘macroeconomic environment’ segment. Qatar was ranked 3rd in the “efficient market” category.
Low levels of corruption and undue influence on government decisions, high efficiency of government institutions, and strong security are the cornerstones of Qatar’s solid institutional framework, which provides a good basis for heightening efficiency.
The World Economic Forum report noted reducing the country’s vulnerability to commodity price fluctuations will require diversification into other sectors of the economy and reinforcing some areas of competitiveness. As a high-income economy, Qatar will have to continue to pay significant attention to developing into a knowledge and innovation-driven economy.
The Forum further added Qatar’s patenting activity remains low by International standards, at 60th, although some elements that could contribute to fostering innovation are in place. The government drives innovation by procuring high-technology products, universities collaborate with the private sector, and scientists and engineers are readily available.
“To become truly innovative economy, Qatar will have to continue to promote a greater use of the latest technologies, ensure universal primary education, and foster more openness to foreign competition…”
In terms of openness to foreign competition, Qatar’s ranking is globally 30th, a ranking that reflects barriers to international trade and investment and red tape when starting business, the Forum report noted.
On the UAE, the report noted higher oil prices have buoyed the budget surplus and allowed the country tor educe public debt and raises the savings rate.
The US continues to be a world leader in bringing innovative products and services to market. Its rise in the ranking is down to a perceived improvement in the country’s financial market as well as greater confidence in its public institutions. However, serious concerns persist over its macroeconomic stability, which ranks 117 out of 148 economies.