World Competitiveness Yearbook 2020



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2020 world competitiveness rankings show Australia stagnant in global ranking at 18

Australian WCY 2020 results

Australia has remained stagnant at 18 in global competitiveness rankings released in June 2020, highlighting a weakening economy pre-COVID and a need to focus on improvements in key areas such as tax, skills, digital transformation and energy infrastructure. 

In releasing the Australian results of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball said the results provide further evidence of the need for ambitious reforms if Australia’s economy is to emerge stronger after the coronavirus pandemic.

“A key factor influencing Australia’s competitiveness ranking is statistical data for 2019. One of the areas where Australia’s relative ranking fell sharply was economic performance, falling from 14 to 23,” he said.

“Across the other pillars of competitiveness, Australia dropped slightly compared to last year including government efficiency (down two places to 15) and infrastructure (down one place to 18). Australia’s ranking for business efficiency improved (up three places to 21) as did our ranking for technological infrastructure (up nine places to 18).

“Australia’s economy was already showing signs of weakness leading into the COVID crisis, with softer growth and underlying fundamentals.

“To date, Australia has taken effective action to manage COVID well compared to many countries.

“To revitalise a strong economic base and come back better post-COVID we need concerted actions to revive Australia’s underlying competitiveness and support investment and job creation.

“The positive from the pandemic is that Australian businesses and governments have demonstrated considerable agility including in the rapid adoption of new technologies.

“This shows Australia is capable of being a nimble economy, able to respond and adapt to changing economic circumstances.

“As we move beyond the immediate response to the pandemic, we must maintain that agility to lay the foundations for the next generation of economic development. This will ensure we have a globally competitive and dynamic economy.”

Mr Ball said the weak spots identified in the survey are already well known to business and policymakers in Australia.

“The results show the areas where we need to lift performance include the competitiveness of our tax regime, energy infrastructure, R&D culture, dynamism of the economy, entrepreneurship, apprenticeships and digital transformation in companies,” he said.

Overall in the rankings Singapore retained the top ranking for the second year in a row, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Hong Kong. In the top 20, the countries that dropped the most were the US, dropping from three in 2019 to 10, and China, dropping from 14 to 20. The countries making the biggest gains in the top 20 were Denmark, Taiwan and Canada, gaining six, five and five places respectively to be ranked two, 11 and 13. Australia was ranked the fourth most competitive nation in the Asia Pacific region and fifth for countries with a population greater than 20 million.

International WCY 2020 results

Download the 2020 Australian results
See the 2020 international rankings
Read CEDA media release: 2020 world competitiveness ranking: Australia stagnant in global ranking at 18​

Watch: Australia's competitiveness

Watch as IMD Professor of Finance and Director, IMD World Competitiveness Centre, Professor Arturo Bris and Asialink Group CEO, Penny Burtt alongside CEDA Chief Economis Jarrod Ball, discuss the results and Australia's competitiveness in economic recovery.

Other related content

At CEDA’s Economic and Political Overview, IMD Business School Professor of Finance, Arturo Bris shared what competitiveness is and why it matters.

About the survey

The rankings are part of the Switzerland based IMD’s 2018 World Competitiveness Yearbook, which compares and ranks 63 countries based on more than 340 business competitiveness criteria. Two thirds of the criteria are based on statistical indicators and one third is based on a survey of more than 6000 international executives conducted in March/April this year. CEDA is the Australian partner for the yearbook.

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