KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia climbed two spots to rank 23rd out of 137 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 (GCR) compared to last year where it was placed 25th out of 138 countries.
In the report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Malaysia has overtaken Ireland, Qatar and remained ahead of economies such as South Korea, China, Iceland and Estonia.
The study, which uses 70 per cent survey data and 30 per cent hard data from 137 countries, took into considerations 12 pillars of competitiveness to determine the country's ranking.
Overall, Switzerland was ranked the most competitive economy in the world for the ninth consecutive year, ahead of the United States and Singapore, followed by The Netherlands and Germany.
Malaysia Productivity Corp (MPC), which releases the data locally, said Malaysia's performance remained strong and remarkably consistent as it retained its position in the top 25.
"Among emerging economy in East Asia and Pacific region, Malaysia maintains its position as the most competitive in the transition stage from efficiency-driven to innovation-driven," MPC Director-General, Datuk Mohd Razali Hussien, told a press conference.
He said the better ranking was due to improvements in the scores in 10 of the indicators in the 12 pillars which measured both macro and micro economic aspects of competitiveness.
The 12 pillars: Institutions, Infrastructure, Macroeconomic Environment, Health and Primary Education, Higher Education and Training, Goods Market Efficiency, Labour Market Efficiency, Financial Market Development, Technological Readiness, Market Size, Business Sophistication and Innovation.
"Malaysia performed most strongly in financial market development, followed by health and primary education, infrastructure and macroeconomic environment," he said.
Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad, welcomed the improvements in this year's GCR, saying that the latest ranking affirmed the strength made by the country's macroeconomic fundamentals and that the economic policies were on the right track.
"Our exports are doing well and we continue to receive healthy inflows of direct foreign investments," he said.
He said the country would continue to adopt strong economic policies while hoping to do well in the ranking with continuous improvements in soft and hard infrastructures.
"The country's competitiveness can only be improved if there is a coordinated action by the government, private sector and civil society.
Mustapa said the WEF also highlighted that continuous benchmarking and monitoring were needed to ensure that public-private collaborations would result in more forward-looking policies for the benefit of everyone.
"In this connection, the government has established a task force chaired by the Chief Secretary to the government comprising representatives from several ministries, agencies and the private sector to monitor our economic performance based on global competitiveness index to come up with better policy proposal," he said.
"While the improvement should be welcomed, we must not get too overwhelmed and lose sight of future challenges.
"The landscape is rapidly changing and thus we must ramp up our efforts in fostering greater public-private collaborations and being on the forefront of future trends including the Industry 4.0," he said.