The Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development released the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011 at2 a.m. Taiwan time May 18. Taiwan came in 6th overall in the report, up two notches from the previous year. In the 2010 report, Taiwan ranked 8th—a jump of 15 places from 2009. This latest ranking is Taiwan’s best showing in over a decade. Dr. Stephane Garelli, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, said the competitiveness of medium-size and large economies was greatly affected by the 2008 financial crisis, but Taiwan has shown resilience.
In a Central News Agency interview, the center’s deputy director, Suzanne Rosselet-McCauley, said that Taiwan’s competitiveness has been greatly enhanced by the signing of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which improved relations between Taiwan and mainland China, expanded cross-strait trade and bolstered investor confidence in the region.
Rosselet-McCauley said that although Taiwan has been hit by natural disasters in recent years, the Ma Ying-jeou administration has endeavored to stabilize the political environment and engage the private sector. Both of these, she said, are very positive developments.
Of the four major indicators that combine to give the overall ranking, Taiwan’s “economic performance” ranked 8th, advancing eight places from 2010 after jumping 11 places the year earlier. Among the sub-factors, Taiwan was 3rd in real GDP growth, 4th in growth in exports of goods, and 2nd in growth in exports of commercial services—all of which improved more than 10 places from last year.
In the “business efficiency” category, Taiwan performed brilliantly, retaining the 3rd spot for the second straight year after having leapt 19 places from 2009. The impressive performance was due to companies’ adaptability and stock market efficiency, which ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively.
Taiwan edged up one place from last year to rank an unprecedented 16th in “infrastructure.” It placed 3rd in such sub-factors as higher education achievement and export share of high-tech products, while coming in 5th in both population percentage of researchers and scientists, as well as fixed broadband tariffs, an indication of Taiwan’s success in basic infrastructure development.
In “government efficiency”—after jumping from 12th to 6th in 2010—Taiwan dropped four spots while remaining in the top 10. The nation maintained a competitive edge in a number of sub-factors, having the lowest foreign debt, ranking 4th in consumption tax rate and foreign currency reserves, and coming in 5th in collected total tax revenues as a share of GDP. It also gained two spots to come in at 48th in restrictions on openness to foreign investors.
As a spokesperson for the Executive Yuan pointed out, at a May 17 press conference with local and foreign journalists, Premier Wu Den-yih noted that in the last three years, Taiwan has moved up in all surveys published by international rating agencies, showing the world’s affirmation of Taiwan’s overall performance. In the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011, which he proffered as the most recent example, Taiwan moved up two notches to 6th. This shows that the administration’s policy direction has been correct and is in keeping with the nation’s overall development needs.
The spokesperson further indicated that since the financial tsunami, Taiwan’s global competitiveness has risen, reflecting the strong recovery seen in Taiwan’s economy, and the financial sector in particular. Over the past year, the government has initiated several measures to stimulate the economy and help Taiwan’s firms deploy globally. These have included seeking foreign investment, instituting a flat business income tax for both high-tech and traditional industries, and relaxing financial and economic regulations.
Taiwan’s outstanding showing in the latest IMD report is solid encouragement for the administration, domestic firms and society as a whole. Taiwan’s excellent performance, the Executive Yuan spokesperson concluded, can be attributed to the government’s promotion of private investment and creation of jobs, which have resulted in double-digit economic growth.