Maintaining steady course in turbulent times

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With the new centres of economic hope, China, India, Brazil and Russia seeing slow-down, recession in Europe and little growth in the United States, 2012 has proved to be a challenging year for the global economy. However, despite this gloomy backdrop, Oman has kept its position as the 32nd most competitive country in the 2012/13 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, a measure of the economies of 144 countries. This ranking places Oman in the top 25 percentile of the world’s economies and ranks it above economic powerhouses that include India, South Africa, Italy and Turkey.

The Public Authority for Investment, Promotion & Export Development (PAIPED) and the Oman-based think-tank International Research Foundation (IRF), which announced details of the 2012/13 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, said this year’s Report is a clear testament to the success of the work being carried out by Omani government institutions in helping raise the Sultanate’s competitiveness and improve the nation’s business environment and above all to the solid economic planning and vision underpinning this.

Conducted by the World Economic Forum in partnership with leading academics and a global network of research institutes, the Index calculates its rankings from publicly available data and more than 15,000 business surveys in the 144 economies.

Senior representatives drawn from across Oman’s private sector gave their input to the Executive Opinion Survey, which provides the basis of the World Economic Forum Report. The survey is carried out by PAIPED and IIR who are part of the World Economic Forum’s network of over 160 Partner Institutes worldwide.

Launching the Report, HE Dr Salem bin Nasser Al Ismaily, chairman, PAIPED emphasised the importance of benchmarking Oman’s competitiveness. “Benchmarking our competitive performance is an important exercise and the 2012/13 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index provides government and the private sector with data that can help formulate policy recommendations that will enable Oman to achieve sustainable and long-lasting competitive gain,” he said.

Noting Oman’s consolidation of its position in the Report, Al Ismaily cautioned against complacency. “Oman maintains its focus on improving policies related to the labour market, education, skills and competition policy,” he said. “At the same time, we must ensure our banking system is providing an adequate supply of credit to support Oman’s thriving enterprise culture.”

Private Sector Perspective
Speaking on behalf of the private sector, young Omani FMCG business owner and marketing director for Naranjee Hirjee & Co, Nikhil Sampat, said, “Oman’s ranking reaffirms its pro-business stance and openness – both of which play a key role in helping us remain an attractive location for business and trade.”

S Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries & Power Appliances Company remarked, “To be successful, we must continue to focus on improving our macroeconomic environment, removing any unnecessary regulatory barriers faced by the private sector. In addition, we have to work hand-in-hand with government to ensure policies and regulations support the ability of domestic companies to be competitive and productive on the international stage. It’s only by building such capacity and institutional policies, will we be able to move to the next stage of improving the Sultanate’s competitiveness and achieve sustained higher levels of prosperity. In this regard, we’ve made significant gains”.

Rankings
As in previous years, the top 10 remain dominated by a number of European countries: in the overall ranking, Switzerland led the table followed by Singapore, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, the US, the UK, Hong Kong SAR and Japan.

From a regional perspective, several countries from the Arab World, including Oman (32nd); Qatar (11th); Saudi Arabia (18th); United Arab Emirates (24th); Kuwait (37th); Bahrain (35th) and Jordan (64th) occupy the upper half of the rankings.


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