Canada drops to 14th in global competitiveness ranking

World Economic Forum report notes less favourable research and innovation factors.

September 5, 2012   by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO — As the competitiveness gap widens in Europe, Canada’s global position has also slipped from 12th to 14th, according to an annual competitiveness ranking by the World Economic Forum.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 shows Switzerland topping the rankings for the fourth straight year, with the US in seventh place and Canada residing in the top 20.

Canada continues to place high among the 144 countries measured in the report thanks to “highly efficient” markets with high rankings for goods (13th), labour (4th), financial markets (11th), well functioning and transparent institutions (11th) and excellent infrastructure (13th). However, the report notes this year’s ranking was dragged down by a “less favourable assessment” of research institutions and the government’s role in promoting innovation through procurement practices.

Human resources ranks highly (7th for health and primary education, 15th for higher education and training), but there’s a downward trend on higher education, which ranked 8th two years ago.

The Conference Board of Canada, which helped manage the distribution of surveys in Canada, noted the country has dropped five places since 2009.

“Canada is a developed economy and it is at a stage where its capacity to innovate successfully determines its overall success. Canadian businesses must be able to compete on the basis of developing new or improved products, services, models, and processes,” said Daniel Muzyka, president and CEO of the Ottawa-based think tank.

He said Canada is not taking full advantage of its strong economic fundamentals, well-educated workforce and efficient markets to build higher value-added products and services.

“Too often, Canada fails to commercialize its good ideas into marketable products and services or capture the value from growth,” he said, suggesting all levels of government, businesses and educational institutions need to do more.

Among the emerging market economies, China is down three places at 29th but leads the BRIC group. Brazil is 48th and the only country to improve its ranking. South Africa (52nd), India (59th) and Russia (67th) showed small declines.

The US slipped two more places to 7th, its fourth consecutive decline. The report notes a low public trust in politicians and a perceived lack of government efficiency among business leaders, but the US continues to be a major global innovator and its markets “work efficiently.”

Switzerland and countries in Northern Europe have been consolidating their strong competitiveness positions since the financial and economic downturn in 2008, says the report. However, countries in Southern Europe, such as Portugal (49th), Spain (36th), Italy (42nd) and Greece (96th) continue to suffer from macroeconomic imbalances, poor access to financing, rigid labour markets and an innovation deficit.

Filling out the top 10 are Singapore (2nd), Finland (3rd) and overtaking Sweden (4th), The Netherlands (5th), Germany (6th), the UK (8th), Hong Kong (9th) and Japan (10th).

Click here for a copy of the report.

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