Barbados has the sixth best “high quality” educational system in the world, but its overall competitiveness has fallen.
The island is being held back by macroeconomics conditions now ranking among the worst globally, and a “low” capacity to innovate.
That’s what The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, released today by the World Economic Forum, has concluded.
The 569-page report, which the WEF said “remains the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide”, also said that while there was “a slight improvement in score”, Barbados fell three positions in the rankings from 44th to 47th place.
But on account of the fact that the countries surveyed have grown from 144 to 148, there were suggestions the island had practically held its position on the index.
That said, the WEF said Barbados’ drop “is driven by the persistence of the credit crunch that is hindering the capacity of local businesses to finance their activities by raising new equity (92), loans (89), or venture capital (98) to support innovative projects”.
“In addition, and closely related to this concern, macroeconomic conditions (121), although slowly improving, are still worrisome, and the capacity to innovate remains low (81),” the report stated.
“On a more positive note, Barbados continues to benefit from a fairly skilled labor force, thanks to a high-quality educational system (6) and high enrollment rates in secondary (23) and tertiary education (33rd), well-functioning institutions (30), and solid infrastructure (24).
The WEF document is released annually and “assesses the competitiveness landscape of 148 economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity”.
In 2011-2012 Barbados was ranked 42 out of 142 countries, in 2012-2013 it was 44 out of 144 countries and this year 47 out of 148 countries.
The island was ranked top 20 in the world in the areas of health and primary education, and higher education and training and in the top 30 for labour market efficiency, infrastructure, technological readiness, financial market development, and institutions.
It scored lowest for market size, macroeconomic environment, and goods market efficiency.
The “most problematic factors for doing business” identified were access to financing, inefficient government bureaucracy, poor work ethic in national labour force, insufficient capacity to innovate, restrictive labour regulations, and tax rates.
On the other hand, government instability, poor public health, corruption, policy instability, crime and theft, and the extent to which the workforce was educated were not viewed as major hindrances to the business climate.
Barbados’ participation in the report this year was facilitated using an online survey tool, and as was the 18 other countries which did likewise, this was due to “energy, time, and cost considerations”.
WEF officials said the report was released today at a time when the world economy “continues to emerge slowly from the most serious economic crisis of the post-World War II period – one that has deeply transformed the global economy and highlighted the increasingly important role that emerging markets and developing economies play in the global economy”.
“As advanced economies are searching for ways to speed up their economic engines, emerging and developing countries have been important drivers of the global economic recovery,” the report stated.
“As a result, the nature of the relationship between advanced economies and emerging ones has evolved, and emerging and developing countries have created stronger ties among themselves. Among the advanced economies, two patterns seem to emerge: the United States, Canada, and Japan are expected to grow at a gentle pace, while the prospects for the euro zone are more uncertain, especially as tight credit conditions continue to limit domestic demand.
“More generally, the new global economic landscape raises questions as to the very distinction between advanced and emerging economies, particularly when it comes to growth and competitiveness,” it added, pointing to progress in rebuilding global confidence this year.
As a result of this, the WEF said “recovery looks more assured today than it did just one year ago”. (SC)