Central and Eastern European countries rapidly improved their competitiveness last year, according to the annual world ranking produced by the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.
The Czech Republic rose two places to become the highest ranked country in the region at 27th place, overtaking Lithuania, which slipped two places to 30th. But the most impressive improvements were made by Latvia (up six places to 37), Slovakia (up six places to 40), Slovenia (up six places to 43) and Bulgaria (up five places to 50).
“The impressive performance of Eastern European economies as a whole is to be welcomed,” said Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre. “The common pattern among all of the countries in the top 20 is their focus on business-friendly regulation, physical and intangible infrastructure and inclusive institutions. These are qualities that many Eastern European economies are increasingly recognising and embracing, and a breakthrough into the top 20 might not be too far away.”
Among the CEE’s top-ranked countries were also Estonia (31) and Poland (33). These countries ranked close to or above some Western European countries, such as France in 32nd position, Spain in 34th and Italy in 35th.
Further down the ranking, Russia improved its ranking by one place to 44th place, Turkey by two to 38th, while Ukraine rose one place to 59th place. Among the biggest losers was Kazakhstan, which plunged 13 places to 47th.
The study reveals a marked decline in Asia’s overall competitiveness since last year’s ranking, with China Hong Kong and Singapore alone bucking a wider trend of deterioration by overtaking the US to become the world’s most competitive economy.
The IMD World Competitiveness Centre, a research group within IMD business school, has published the ranking each year since 1989 and it is widely regarded as one of the foremost annual assessments of the competitiveness of countries.
Each ranking is based on analysis of over 340 criteria derived from four principal factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure. Responses from an in-depth survey of more than 5,400 business executives, who are asked to assess the situation in their own countries, are also taken into consideration.