Ireland moves to sixth place in global competitiveness rankings

State’s performance linked to strong domestic growth and international invesment

IMD survey director Arturo Bris

Ireland ranks in sixth place in the world competitiveness rankings, its second highest ever placing.

The survey of 63 countries, compiled by the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, linked Ireland's rise in the rankings to the State's recent economic performance; the ongoing level of inward investment and what it described as a high level of business efficiency.

The 2017 edition of the IMD survey, which is acknowledged as one of the most reputable barometers of international competitiveness, put Hong Kong on top again with Switzerland and Singapore in second and third.

The US, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) completed this year's top 10.


Each country’s ranking is based on an analysis of over 260 criteria derived from four principal factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure. A survey of some 6,250 business executives was also taken into account.

Ireland’s highest position in the rankings, achieved in 2000, was fifth. However, it fell to 24th position in 2011, only months after being forced into an international bailout. Since then it has been steadily rising in the rankings.

Ireland again scored strongly in the economic performance category, coming third overall when it came to the performance of the domestic economy, which has been the fastest growing economy in Europe for the past three years. It was also ranked third overall for attracting international investment.

Ireland topped the international rankings when it came to business productivity and efficiency; and was third in terms of positive business attitudes.

However, it came down the list in the categories of employment, which includes labour market flexibility, infrastructure and access to finance, the latter being a perennial problem for businesses here since the banking crash.

The survey also listed a number of significant challenges facing Ireland, including Brexit, further international currency volatility and a possible slowdown in global growth. It also cited risks associated with a tightening of ECB monetary policy and future investment in infrastructure.

From a list of 15 attractiveness indicators, respondents in the IMD’s executive survey also scored the various countries. In Ireland’s case, high educational achievement and tax competitiveness were seen as the main draws while access to finance, competency of government, and quality of corporate governance were viewed as the least attractive traits.

For the first time, IMD published a separate report ranking the digital competitiveness of countries, which put Ireland in a modest 21st place, which may be linked to the poor level of broadband in non-urban areas.

IMD survey director Arturo Bris said the indicators that stood out among the most improved countries are related to government and business efficiency as well as productivity.

"These countries have maintained a business-friendly environment that encourages openness and productivity," Prof Bris 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," he said.

The bottom of the table, meanwhile, was largely occupied by countries experiencing political and economic upheaval, he said. "You would expect to see countries such as Ukraine (60), Brazil (61) and Venezuela (63) here because you read about their political issues in the news. These issues are at the root of poor government efficiency which diminishes their place in the rankings," Prof Bris said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times