Sun | Feb 18, 2018

Jamaica leaps in competitiveness rankings

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
In this September 19, 2016 photo, the police tape off a crime scene in the commercial area of downtown Kingston after thieves smashed in a window of a store. Jamaica has imprived in the latest world competitiveness rankings, but crime remains a black mark on the country as a place for business.

Jamaica scored a marked improvement on the Global Competitiveness Index to rank 75 among 138 countries, its second best standing in a decade.

Crime and government inefficiency, however, weakened the country's gains.

Jamaica jumped 11 spots, up from 86, according to the annual Global Competitiveness Report 2016/17 released late September by the World Economic Forum (Weforum).

The world's most competitive countries are Switzerland, Singapore, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany, respectively.

The two most problematic factors for doing business in Jamaica related to crime and violence followed by inefficient government bureaucracy, taxes, corruption and poor work ethic.

The Weforum Executive Opinion Survey asked local respondents to select the five most problematic factors for doing business and rank them between 1 and 5. These factors formed part of the competitiveness report.

Weforum's local partners included the Mona School of Business & Management at the University of the West Indies.




The overall competitive ranking measures 12 criteria. Jamaica's lowest sub-ranking was in the category of small market size at 119. Its macroeconomic performance was also low at 112, while it ended at 90 in the area of higher education and training. Comparatively, the Zimbabwe macroeconomy, which suffered hyperinflation in recent years, ranked 101 or 11 spots better than Jamaica in macroeconomic performance.

In the overall standings, Barbados remained the highest-ranked Caribbean country at 72, followed closely by Jamaica at 75, Dominican Republic at 92 and Trinidad & Tobago at 94. The report did not rank Puerto Rico, Guyana and Haiti in this edition.

Jamaica's performance has vacillated over a 10-year span of competitiveness reports. Specifically, it ranked 67 in the world in 2006/07 and continuously nosedived to 107 among 142 countries in the 2011/12 report before climbing back into 75th in the world.

The country would have benefited from improvements in its business environment through quantitative and qualitative conditionalities imposed by an International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed economic reform programme.

Jamaica continues on that trajectory to meet its obligations with inflation and the current account deficit being contained. Growth is projected at 1.7 per cent for FY2016/17 with improving prospects for investment, including in tourism and strong agricultural recovery, according to the IMF's 13th quarterly review of the reform programme.

The multilateral agency, however, expressed disappointment at the rate of poverty, saying it is "high at about 20 per cent of the population". This remains a concern in the Weforum report, which lists it among factors most troubling to doing business in Jamaica.