US overtakes S'pore for top spot in digital competitiveness

Singapore has dropped to second place in a digital competitiveness ranking of 63 economies, a report showed yesterday.

The United States moved up from third last year to take pole position, according to the ranking by Swiss business school IMD.

Singapore topped the knowledge and technology categories, but came in only 15th for future-readiness. Despite its digital-friendly environment and high levels of training and education, its society's attitude towards adopting technology came in at 20th place, while the agility of businesses to transform digitally was rated 18th.

In contrast, the US made improvements, moving up to fourth in knowledge and third in technology, while holding steady at second for future-readiness.

Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, said: "Gains in knowledge result from a strong performance in employee training and an increase in the share of scientific and technical employment."

Sweden came in third overall, down a notch from second. It came in seventh in knowledge and fifth in both technology and future-readiness. The rather low performance in some of the knowledge components may be at the core of Sweden's fall in ranking. It was 20th in higher education achievement and 23rd in the percentage of graduates in sciences.

Denmark and Switzerland rounded off the top five. Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands and Britain completed the top 10.

Singapore is the only Asian economy to crack the top 10 this year, with closest rival Hong Kong falling to 11th from seventh last year. Taiwan came in 16th.

South Korea went up five places to 14th, while Japan did likewise to 22nd. Both made significant improvements in the knowledge and future-readiness categories.

This year, 29 economies in the study saw an improvement in their level of digital competitiveness. However, many South-east Asian nations such as Malaysia (27th), the Philippines (56th) and Indonesia (62nd) slipped down the league table.

In a separate annual IMD world competitiveness ranking released last month, Singapore stayed in third place out of 63 economies. The US was top and Hong Kong second.

The IMD World Competitiveness Centre is a research group at IMD business school in Switzerland with 30 years of research expertise in the field of country competitiveness.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2018, with the headline 'US overtakes S'pore for top spot in digital competitiveness'. Subscribe