Global competitiveness rankings

Bangladesh enters club of top 100 countries

* Climbs seven steps up * Corruption, however, still most problematic factor * Monitoring, supervision by central bank deteriorated in 2016

| Updated: October 22, 2017 18:15:18

Bangladesh enters club of top 100 countries

Bangladesh's competitiveness ranking got elevated to a double-digit 99th amongst 137 countries surveyed, rising seven notches up from previous position.

The findings came in the latest Global Competitiveness Report (2017-18) of the World Economic Forum (WEF), released in Dhaka Wednesday.

The climb underlines that Bangladesh improved in some basic requirements -- institutions and infrastructures -- in 2016 compared to the previous year.

Country's private think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a local partner of the WEF, disclosed the rankings at the city's CIRDAP auditorium Wednesday.

The WEF, popularly known as Davos Forum, has published such ranking report since 1979 on the basis of cross-country benchmarking analyses of the factors and institutions that determine long-term growth and prosperity of countries.

Presenting the paper at the press meet, Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the CPD, said Bangladesh entered the top 100-country club for the first time with its rank elevated from 106th to 99th.

He said the country moved up by virtue of progress made in its basic requirements like institutions and infrastructures.

Bangladesh also made progress on macroeconomic environment as well as health and primary education pillars.

He noted that especially Bangladesh's position in institutions was one of the poorest even few years back and now it scored 107th, leading to rise in overall scores.

"Bangladesh's ranking in the institution was 137 out of 139," Dr Moazzem recalled.

He said the country's overall score now improved by 2.6 per cent.

The policy analyst said: "Both rank and score on all 12 pillars have experienced improvement - an exceptional case."

He, however, said this improvement in rankings is perhaps partly linked with the tumble of three countries which had ranked above Bangladesh last year.

He said Bangladesh is most laggard in case of technological readiness despite the fact that its position improved to 120th from 122nd in the past year.

"Bangladesh is still at the nascent stage in case of creating IT-enabled business environment," says the CPD presentation on the ranking.

Domestic competitive environment was perceived to have deteriorated in 2016.

It noticed deterioration in case of intensity of competition, less competitive professional services, less competitive retail services and poor competitive networks.

The Centre stressed the need for ensuring competition by implementing rules and regulations, such as effective enforcement of 'The Competition Act'.

Quoting a rapid-assessment survey conducted as part of the global survey, the CPD said local businesses were sceptical as to whether the improvement will sustain or not.

Dr Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow at the CPD, said Bangladesh also bettered its position in innovation and sophistication factors--the 11th and the 12th pillars respectively of the global index.

He listed some of the innovations, including economic zones and one-stop services, and focused on the urgency of further advances.

"If we cannot advance ourselves in the new innovations, then our raking will not sustain," he said on a note of caution.

He also said Bangladesh now should focus on the technological indicators for further improvements in the ranking.

Bangladesh's ranking has been enhanced by seven places in a year and this has implications over foreign trade and investment, Dr Rahman told the journalists.

"This is comparative picture and it has applications on many business and economic fronts," he added.

However, Bangladesh is one of the weakest performers in South Asia as its position is up by 16 notches from that of Pakistan, the poorest performer in the region.

Pakistan ranked 115 in the 2016 rankings.

But all other South Asian economies, excepting Pakistan, are above Bangladesh.

India, although slipped one notch, ranked 40th, Nepal 88th, Sri Lanka slipped by 7 places to 85th, and Bhutan 82th from 97th.

Switzerland retained its number-one position in the last ranking due to its extremely strong fundamentals including public health, primary education and solid macroeconomic environment.

The United States, which was third, now rose to number-two rung in global rankings.

Singapore stands third. Actually Singapore and the USA interchanged their positions in 2016.

The Netherlands ranked fourth and such all top-10 economies retained their rankings.

The report, an annual assessment of the factors driving productivity and prosperity in 137 countries, singles out corruption as the most problematic factor for doing business in the country, followed by inadequate supply of infrastructure, inefficient government bureaucracy, and inadequate educated workforce.

The rankings covering 137 economies measure national competiveness - defined as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity.

However, the rapid-assessment survey conducted by the CPD alongside the global survey on the business executives opined that the monitoring and supervision by the central bank deteriorated in 2016.

It says: "51 per cent of the respondents mentioned that the monitoring and supervision of the central bank deteriorated in 2016."

And 29 per cent respondents perceived that capital market is still influenced by illegal activities.

Another 45 per cent are not satisfied with the pace of work on the fast-track projects.

Of the respondents, 58 per cent were sceptical about the special economic zones' ability to meet the need of the investors, says the rapid-assessment survey called Bangladesh Business Environment Study 2017.

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