The Philippines is 56th most competitive among 140 countries in the world, according to the World Economic Forum in a report released this week.
Among the nine Southeast Asian countries included in the rankings, we placed fifth, behind Singapore (second in the world) and Malaysia (25th globally), followed by Thailand (38th) and Indonesia (45th).
The WEF ranking provides the big picture of which economies are doing well and which could do better.
All these are happening amid the changing nature of competitiveness, the WEF said, brought about by changes in digital technology interacting with traditional issues like governance, infrastructure and skills.
But aside from the big picture, the report also takes a closer look at individual economies’ performance vis-a-vis the rest of the world in various indicators and pillars.
Our economic managers and planners can take a cue from the findings as they draw up where to work harder.
The Philippines, for instance, ranked 67th in enabling environments (institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption and macro-stability), 94th in human capital (health and skills), 34th in market (product market, labor market, financial system and market size) and 52nd in innovation ecosystem (business dynamism and innovation capability).
Broken down further, the Philippines is strongest (32nd in the world) in market size, likely owing to our big, robust population.
We are weakest (101st), however, in institutions and in health.
Indeed, given that there are nine Southeast Asian economies in the report (Myanmar was not included), it would be equally accurate to say that the Philippines is also the fifth least competitive country in the region.
We understand that our leaders are engaged in battles on multiple fronts: against drugs, for instance, or corruption. The proposed shift to federalism and the coming elections in May 2019 are also taking up most of our time and attention. Often, too, the people are distracted by the controversial pronouncements coming out of the President’s mouth of the colorful conduct of the people around him. That is, if the people can even forget how difficult their daily sustenance has become given the wild rise in prices of goods.
Competitiveness does much for development, because it is the competitive economies that get the inflow needed to spur economic activity, which will in turn redound to the benefit of the people. The report should serve as a guide that will remind us where we are doing well, and more importantly, where we need to improve.