Business

Jamaica improves 5 places in Global Competitiveness Report

BY RICHARD BROWNE
Business editor
browner@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 29, 2017

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Jamaica has improved its score by five places in the latest Global Competitiveness Report, moving to 70th position compared to 75 last year.

The decline shows a steady improvement since 2012 when Jamaica placed 97 out of 144 countries, improving to 94 in 2013, 86 in 2014, levelling at 86 in 2015, then improving by 11 places last year.

The results of the 2017/18 report were published by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday. Jamaica placed between Iran and Morocco.

The new ranking makes Jamaica the highest rated in the Caribbean out of the four countries listed. Last year Barbados ranked as the highest Caribbean country at 72, but it was not included in this year's report. The second-highest rated Caribbean country was Trinidad and Tobago at 83, an improvement of 11 places compared to 94 last year.

Last year, Barbados was the highest ranking (Latin American and Caribbean) LAC economy for a number of areas, including infrastructure, labour market efficiency, and technological readiness, but was the lowest ranked for market size. Barbados was not listed this year, but Jamaica led the LAC for labour market efficiency.

The Dominican Republic fell 12 places to 104, down from 92.

But the lowest-rated Caribbean country was the DR's neighbour, Haiti which at 128 was listed in the worst 10 performing countries, dominated mainly by Africa.

Jamaica ranked quite highly for the pillar of financial market development for — placing 31, slightly down from last year's 30. But Jamaica performed poorly for macroeconmic environment at 111 and for market size at 116.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the most problematic issue for doing business in Jamaica is seen as crime and theft, followed by tax rates, corruption, and access to financing.

The least problematic factor is seen as public health. Restrictive labour regulations and policy instability are also seen as minor problematic factors.

Drilling down further into the report, at 130 Jamaica ranks towards the bottom of the globe for the business costs of crime and violence, and likewise for organised crime, placed at 132. But both show slight improvements over last year.

Jamaica also ranks very poorly for government debt as a percentage of GDP at 129.

The high rate of prevalence of HIV is also a cause of concern, placing Jamaica at 118. But on the topic of disease, Jamaica placed close to the top of the world for the low incidence of tuberculosis — ranking 6th in the world.

Even higher than that was Jamaica's ranking of second for the number of procedures needed to open a business.

Apart from Barbados, most Caribbean countries, including Cuba, Guyana, Belize and other Caricom states are not included in the report.

Costa Rica was the highest-rated regional country at 47, up from 50 last year. Panama followed at 50, falling eight places since last year, just ahead of Mexico at 51. Meanwhile, Canada placed 14, up from 15 .

The small island economy of Mauritius was the highest-ranked country from Africa at 45, equal to last year.

The world's most competitive economy was Switzerland, followed by the United States (moving up one space from third) and Singapore. Finishing out the top 10 economies were Netherlands at 4, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, the United Kingdom (down one space from seven last year), Japan and Finland.

The least competitive economy was Yemen, currently in civil war, at 137. Several African countries were in the bottom 10, including Mozambique at 136, Chad, Liberia, Mauritania, Malawi, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Burundi at 129. Venezuela, once one of the wealthiest economies in South America, was ranked at 127 — an improvement of three places over last year.

The report is created with input from various partner institutes in each of the listed countries. In Jamaica the partner institute is the Mona School of Business & Management (MSBM) at The University of the West Indies, with the assistance of Michael Williams, acting executive director; William Lawrence, director, Professional Services Unit; and Patricia Douce, project administrator, Professional Services Unit.

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