Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Philippine Competitiveness: Marginal Improvements, More Required

From World Economic Forum (bold emphasis mine)

Up 10 places to 75th, the Philippines posts one of the largest improvements in this year’s rankings. The vast majority of individual indicators composing the GCI improve, sometimes markedly. Yet the challenges are many, especially in the areas at the foundation of any competitive economy, even at an early stage of development.

The quality of the country’s public institutions continues to be assessed as poor: the Philippines ranks beyond the 100 mark on each of the 16 related indicators. Issues of corruption and physical security appear particularly acute (127th and 117th, respectively). The state of its infrastructure is improving marginally, but not nearly fast enough to meet the needs of the business sector. The country ranks a mediocre 113th for the overall state of its infrastructure, with particularly low marks for the quality of its seaport (123rd) and airport infrastructure (115th). Finally, despite an enrolment rate of around 90 percent, primary education is characterized by low-quality standards (110th). Against such weaknesses, the macroeconomic situation of the Philippines is more positive: the country is up 14 places to 54th in the macroeconomic environment pillar, thanks to slightly lower public deficit and debt, an improved country credit rating, and inflation that remains under control.

In the other, more complex pillars of the Index, the Philippines continues to have a vast opportunity for improvement. In particular, the largely inflexible and inefficient labor market (113th) has shown very little progress over the past four years. On a more positive note, the country ranks a good 57th in the business sophistication category, thanks to a large quantity of local suppliers, the existence of numerous and well developed clusters, and an increased presence of Filipino businesses in the higher segments of the value chain. Finally, the sheer size of the domestic market (36th) confers a notable competitive advantage.

I would suggest that much of the aforementioned improvements may have been due to macro economic trends more than having been policy induced.

That said, the Philippines needs more economic freedom and less reliance on politics to improve trade competitiveness

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