India is world’s 40th most competitive economy: WEF

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

India has been ranked as the 40th most competitive economy — slipping one place from last year’s ranking — on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which is topped by Switzerland.

On the list of 137 economies, Switzerland is followed by the US and Singapore in second and third places, respectively.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report released today, India has slipped from the 39th position to 40th while neighbouring China is ranked at 27th.

“India stabilises this year after its big leap forward of the previous two years,” the report said, adding that the score has improved across most pillars of competitiveness. These include infrastructure (66th rank), higher education and training (75) and technological readiness (107), reflecting recent public investments in these areas, it added.

According to the report, India’s performance also improved in ICT (information and communications technologies) indicators, particularly Internet bandwidth per user, mobile phone and broadband subscriptions, and Internet access in schools.

However, the WEF said the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

“A big concern for India is the disconnect between its innovative strength (29) and its technological readiness (up 3 to 107): as long as this gap remains large, India will not be able to fully leverage its technological strengths across the wider economy,” it noted.

Among the BRICS, China and Russia (38) are placed above India.South Africa and Brazil are placed at 61st and 80th spots, respectively.

In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th rank), Sri Lanka (85), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).

“Improving ICT infrastructure and use remain among the biggest challenges for the region: in the past decade, technological readiness stagnated the most in South Asia,” WEF said.

Other countries in the top 10 are the Netherlands (4th rank), Germany (5), Hong Kong SAR (6), Sweden (7), United Kingdom (8), Japan (9) and Finland (10).

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

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 are the 12 pillars.

According to WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey 2017, corruption is the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

The second biggest bottleneck is ‘access to financing’, followed by ‘tax rates’, ‘inadequate supply of infrastructure’, ‘poor work ethics in national labour force’ and ‘inadequately educated work force’, among others.

The survey findings are mentioned in the report.

“Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

India records 10-year low in public-private investments: World Bank

India recorded a 10-year low in investments in public-private sector in the year 2015, adding to contraction that pulled down the global investment to below its five-year average of $124.1 billion, the World Bank has said.

In its latest annual report, the World Bank said global investment in 2015 decreased to $111.6 billion, below the five-year average of $124.1 billion from 2010 to 2014.

“This contraction resulted from lower investments in Brazil, China and India,” the World Bank said on Monday in its latest report on Private Participation in Infrastructure Database.

“India recorded a 10-year low in investments, as only six road projects — usually a rich source of PPI over the past 10 years – reached financial closure,” the World Bank said.

In South Asia, there were 43 deals for a combined total of $5.6 billion that closed in the region, representing 5 per cent of the total investment — a decline of 82 per cent from the five-year average of $30.5 billion.

“Consistent with historical trends, India generated a majority of the projects (36 out of 43); Pakistan had four; Nepal, two; and Bangladesh, one. Notably, 26 of the 36 projects in India, amounting to $2.0 billion, targeted renewable energy, while all of Pakistan’s projects, totalling $749.9 million, solely focussed on renewables,” the Bank said.

Solar energy investments climbed 72 per cent higher than the last five year average, while renewables attracted nearly two-thirds of investments with private participation, it said.

Global private infrastructure investment in 2015 mostly remained steady at $111.6 billion when compared to the previous year, it said.

Among the most notable, commitments in Brazil were only $4.5 billion in 2015 — a sharp decline from $47.2 billion the previous year, reversing a trend of growing investments, it said.

“Investment in China also fell significantly below its 5-, 10-, and 20-year averages, as the average transaction dropped to $63 million,” it said.

By number of projects, however, these three historical heavyweights took the lead, with 131 of the 300 global deals, or 44 per cent of all projects.

Still their combined investment of $11.6 billion only made up 10 per cent of the global total, compared to 54 per cent in 2014, which was also the annual average over the previous four years.

According to the World Bank, global private infrastructure investment in 2015, though on par with the previous year, was 10 per cent lower than the previous five-year average because of dwindling commitments in China, Brazil, and India.

“The data finds that investments in other emerging economies increased rapidly to $99.9 billion, representing a 92 per cent year-over-year increase,” said Clive Harris, Practice Manager, Public-Private Partnerships, World Bank Group.

IMF knowledge sharing center to come up in India

In a first for Asia, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will set up a knowledge-sharing centre in India, to provide technical support and assistance here and to five other South Asian nations. Their team will extend expertise in core macroeconomic and financial management areas, said an unnamed government source. An agreement is likely to be signed here on Saturday by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The new IMF centre, being set up amid global economic uncertainty, will provide assistance to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bhutan. Since the IMF team will be based out of the region, it will ensure better understanding of regional concerns, including trade, agriculture, climate change, facilitating a reform process and support to regional integration. The knowledge centre will come up in the wake of IMF announcing implementation of its long-pending quota reform, giving more voting rights to emerging economies.

With these changes, to be effected in the coming days, India’s quota in the IMF would rise to 2.7 per cent from the existing 2.44 per cent. Also, the voting share of India would increase to 2.6 per cent from 2.34 per cent. For the first time, four emerging market (EM) countries of the Brics bloc — Brazil, China, India and Russia — will be among the 10 largest members of IMF.

Two new multilateral agencies are also being set up — a New Development Bank of the Brics countries and an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

An Asian economic crisis did occur in the late 1990s but from the Southeast Asian ‘tigers’ of that time. This time, one could emanate from China or another large economy from the EMs. According to the Economic Survey of 2015-16, if this kind of crisis does emerge, it would be very different from those of earlier decades. Since the 1980s, it said external financial crises have followed one of three basic forms — Latin American, Asian or global models.

In a Latin American debt crisis, governments went on a spending binge, financed by foreign borrowing (of recycled petrodollars) while pegging their exchange rates. In the Asian one of the late 1990s, the transmission mechanism was similar — overheating and unsustainable external positions under fixed exchange rates — but the instigating impulse was private borrowing rather than governnment borrowing.

The global one of 2008, with America as its epicentre, was unique in that it involved a systemically important country and originated in doubts about its financial system.

If a crisis occurs in China or another large EM, it is more likely to resemble events of the 1930s, when the UK and then the US went off the gold standard, triggering a series of devaluations by other countries and leading to a collapse of global economic activity.

If such a crisis hits India, it will require fresh prescriptions and it is here that the IMF centre would be of help, a source said.