Singapore tops new ranking of digital competitiveness

Singapore has taken top spot in a maiden global ranking of economies this year. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Singapore has taken top spot in the increasingly crucial area of digital competitiveness in a maiden global ranking of economies this year.

The Republic also regained third place in a related and long-running annual ranking of the world's most competitive economies in overall terms, up from fourth last year and overtaking the United States. Hong Kong retained top spot, while Switzerland held on to second place.

The overall competitiveness survey is carried out by the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, which also published the digital competitiveness survey.

The new ranking measures the ability of economies to explore and adopt digital technologies that transform government practices and business models.

Sweden took second place in the new ranking, followed by the US, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Hong Kong.

"Singapore and Sweden have developed regulation... that facilitates the inflow of overseas talent which complements the local pool," said IMD World Competitiveness Centre director Arturo Bris.

"The US invests more in developing its scientific concentration and generating ideas, but the country also has a history of government support for technological innovation."

Many of the top 10 digitally competitive economies are also found at the top of the overall rankings, with exceptions. Luxembourg, which ranked eighth in the overall list, ranked only 20th in the digital list.

"Of paramount importance in the digital ranking are issues related to how agile economies are when faced with technological change," said Professor Bris.

Ranking in the bottom five are Indonesia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Peru and Venezuela.

"One thing the results highlight is that these countries not only have low rankings in terms of talent, but they also don't invest in developing whatever talent they have," said Prof Bris.

Meanwhile, in the overall competitiveness list, Hong Kong took top spot for the second year, with Switzerland in second place. The US ranked fourth, its lowest position in five years and down from third last year. The Netherlands made the top five, up from eighth place last year.

Prof Bris said the best performers showed the most improvement in government and business efficiency, as well as productivity.

"These countries have maintained a business-friendly environment that encourages openness and productivity," he said. "If you look at China, its improvement of seven places to 18th can be traced to its dedication to international trade. This continues to drive the economy and the improvement in government and business efficiency."

The bottom of the table is largely occupied by economies experiencing political and economic upheaval, including Ukraine, Brazil and Venezuela.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline Singapore tops new ranking of digital competitiveness. Subscribe