Thursday, September 29, 2005

Spain has suffered a further erosion this year in its ability to compete in the global economy, according to the results of an annual survey by the World Economic Forum.

Spain slipped to 29th position in 2005 in the Geneva-based WEF's Growth Competitiveness Index rankings from 23rd last year. The index was based on a survey of 11,000 business leaders in 117 economies worldwide, as well publicly available data. The survey uses a broad range of factors affecting the business environment, such as the macroeconomic scenario, the quality of public institutions and the level of technological progress.

Finland topped the rankings again, followed by the United States and Sweden. Spain ranked behind countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Qatar, Estonia, Portugal, Chile and Israel.

"The Nordic countries share a number of characteristics that make them extremely competitive, such as very healthy macroeconomic environments and public institutions that are highly transparent and efficient, with general agreement within society on the spending priorities to be met in the government budget," said Augusto López-Claros, the chief economist and director of the WEF's Global Competitiveness program.

López-Claros said the fall in Spain's ranking was due a series of factors. He identified one of these as the fact that Spain moved from having a budget surplus to a small deficit last year. The strength of the euro against the dollar also made Spanish exports and those in the euro-zone as a whole less competitive. Businessmen surveyed also pointed to a drop in technological transfer from foreign investment, and relatively lower numbers of university students.

Yeah, and having an erratic policymaker like Zapatero doesn't have anyything to do with it. Roger yearns for Aznar; I never thought I'd say this, but so do I.

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