Strong workers’ rights help State to maintain competitiveness ranking

US tops WEF list for the first time in a decade

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock


Strong workers’ rights, institutions and a dynamic business environment have helped the Republic to maintain its competitiveness ranking for the second year, according to the World Economic Forum.

Ireland ranked 23rd out of 140 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness rankings, with an overall score of 76 and holding on to the same position from last year.

But it means the country continues to lag behind the UK, which ranked eighth, and Germany, which came in third overall.

Among the positive rankings were the labour market, where Ireland was ranked as seventh, and skills, at 15th place.

But the country’s weakest ranking was its market size, where it ranked 44th out of 140. But the report also pointed to issues with infrastructure and the financial system, which ranked 37th.

Ireland also ranked 41st in ICT adoption, with South Korea topping the table, and 37th in macroeconomic stability.

The 2018 edition of the rankings used an overhauled methodology that focuses more on factors such as idea generation and agility.

‘Weakening social fabric’

The US is back at the top of the global competitiveness league, with the report praising the nation’s entrepreneurial culture and financial system. However the report also noted the country’s “weakening social fabric”.

The report placed the US placed ahead of Singapore and Germany in the 140-nation table.

It was the first time that US topped bill in almost a decade. However, there was a warning note for the Trump administration. The WEF said countries that ranked highly on measures such as low tariffs, ease of hiring foreign labour and collaboration in patent application tended to do well on innovation and market efficiency.

“At a time of escalating trade tensions and a backlash against globalisation, the report also reveals the importance of openness for competitiveness,” it said. “Global economic health would be positively impacted by a return to greater openness and integration.”

US companies scored highly for the speed with which they embrace change, but the nation fared poorly on metrics such as health and security. It is “far from the frontier” on checks and balances, judicial independence and corruption, WEF said.

Switzerland, which has long led the rankings, fell to fourth under the new methodology. China, one of the chief targets of US criticism over trade, was 28th. Argentina, hit by a currency crisis, was lowest among Group of 20 countries at 81st.

The WEF also called for policies to address inequality. Measures are needed for income redistribution, investment in education and training, and social safety nets, as long as they don’t hinder competitiveness.

“It is critical that policies be put in place to improve conditions of those adversely affected by globalisation within countries,” according to the report. “It is possible to be pro-growth and inclusive at the same time.” – Additional reporting: Bloomberg