The Korea Herald

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[Editorial] Improved prowess

By 류근하

Published : May 19, 2011 - 18:33

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It is encouraging that Korea’s national competitiveness ranking keeps rising. According to Switzerland-based IMD, Korea placed 22nd among the 59 countries surveyed in the World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2011. That is the highest spot Korea has taken since IMD started to evaluate the competitiveness of major countries in 1997.

Korea climbed in the IMD global rankings for the third consecutive year after rising from 31st in 2008 to 27th in 2009 and further up to 23rd in 2010. The continued ascent indicates that the momentum for improvement of the nation’s economic prowess is sustained.

Of the four evaluation categories, Korea saw its ranking improve by four notches in government efficiency and by one spot in business efficiency. But the nation registered a four-notch drop in economic achievement and stayed unchanged in infrastructure.

While the nation’s overall ranking has inched up, there still remain many areas where it has much room for moving toward global best practice. For instance, Korea fared poorly in attracting foreign direct investment, improving labor-management relations, and ensuring that management was monitored properly by the boards of directors.

Korea also lags behind advanced countries in labor law efficiency, immigration laws, business regulations, social conditions, service sector development and efficiency of small and medium-sized companies.

As a result, Korea is way behind most of its Asian rivals ― Hong Kong (1st), Singapore (3rd), Taiwan (6th) and even China (19th). But it is ahead of Japan (26th), which suffered a 10-notch drop in 2010.

The IMD survey shows the weaknesses and strengths of the Korean economy. The government needs to double its efforts to address the country’s weak points. It also needs to bear in mind the IMD’s five policy recommendations for this year ― creating more jobs, curbing inflation, improving workers’ living conditions, enhancing fiscal soundness and making the public sector more transparent.