Brussels, Oct. 9 (CNA) Taiwan moved up one place to become the 12th most competitive economy in the world out of 141 worldwide in the latest Global Competitiveness Report 2019, published by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday.
Taiwan was fourth among Asia-Pacific economies, behind Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, but ahead of South Korea (13th), Australia (16th), New Zealand (19th), Malaysia (27th) and China (28th), according to the annual report.
The top five economies this year were: Singapore, the United States, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, the report indicated.
The WEF report, which was launched in 1979, provides an annual assessment of the drivers of productivity and long-term economic growth, based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), according to the WEF website.
The GCI maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organized into 12 pillars, namely Institutions, Infrastructure, ICT adoption, Macroeconomic stability, Health, Skills, Product market, Labor market, Financial system, Market size, Business dynamism, and Innovation capability.
For each indicator, the index uses a scale from 0 to 100 and the final score shows how close an economy is to the ideal state or "frontier" of competitiveness.
Taiwan is one of only four economies to score above 80 on the Innovation capability pillar -- together with Germany, the United States and Switzerland, with only one-quarter of the 141 economies scoring above 50, according to the report.
Taiwan ranked 4th in innovation capability, sixth in financial system, 11th in ICT adoption, 14th in product market, 15th in labor market, 16th in infrastructure, 19th in market size and 24th in institutions.
Overall, Taiwan's ranking improved in nine of the 12 indicators, and remained the same for two indicators, while dropping two spots in "skills" to 23rd from 21st a year ago.
Asked to comment, Taiwan's National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) told reporters in Taipei that the government is glad to see it is one of only four countries worldwide to receive a score above 80 in the innovation capability indicator, an indication its efforts in pushing for innovation are bearing fruit.
However, she admitted that given the fall of two places in Taiwan's "skills" ranking there is still room for improvement.
Taiwan ranked 59th and 54th in two sub-categories under the "skills" category, scoring 4.2 in "skillset of graduates" and 3.7 in "critical thinking in teaching" with scoring ranging from 1 to 7.
Chen said the relatively low scores in these two sections show that the government needs to reform vocational education to bridge the gap between the campus and workforce.
Meanwhile, Taiwan also performed relatively poorly in terms of "ease of hiring foreign labor and "time to start a business (days)," Chen noted, meaning the government needs to further relax related rules to better attract new start-ups.