Insights on Brunei’s global competitiveness ranking

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shed an interesting light on the current state of Southeast Asian economies, and specifically Brunei.

The Sultanate went up two notches from rank 28 to 26, which places its global competitiveness now among countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, China, but also Israel and Ireland. Within ASEAN, Brunei is third behind Singapore, which remained second on the global list, and very close behind Malaysia, which gained just one notch to rank 24 in this year’s report.

But after taking a closer look at this comprehensive study, Brunei still has some kind of deeper disparities in the assessment of its economic “pillars” that led to the WEF’s final ranking. For example, Brunei is number one worldwide in the valuation of its macroeconomic environment. The Sultanate also ranks very high in the “pillars” of institutions, health and primary education and labour market efficiency.

However, it is just in the upper middle field in terms of infrastructure, higher education, financial market development, innovation, business sophistication, and even worse in market goods readiness, and, last but not least, on rank 131 out of 148 in market size, something that comes not as a surprise.

The WEF concludes that Brunei is in a transition from stage one to two, whereby stage 1 is a factor-driven economy which is defined as an investment-heavy economy that relies strongly on the importation of global technology for local production processes – to an efficiency driven-economy, which means that Brunei is at the early stage of implementing efficiency enhancers to base growth on the development of more efficient production processes and increased product quality, as well as entrepreneurship. At such a stage, Brunei, interestingly, finds itself among 20 other economies worldwide, such as the Philippines, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Bolivia, Iran, Mongolia or Venezuela.

So, not all is blissful on rank 24. The most problematic factors for doing business in Brunei have been cited by the WEF as being access to financing, poor work ethic among the national labour force, inefficient government bureaucracy and an insufficient capacity to innovate. On the upside, factors such as the favourable tax environment, political stability, the low crime rate and low inflation rate, as well as the good public health system have been lauded.

The report tells a lot more about Brunei and can be recommended for closer study to anyone who holds some form of public responsibility in the nation. But in a nutshell, if Brunei wants to surpass Malaysia which seems to be achievable until the next ranking is put together and close up as much as possible to Singapore, the first things to be addressed are to create a more flexible financial market and a reduction of the reliance on a foreign skilled workforce by improving skills training and labour-market competitiveness on the home turf, which automatically will spur an entrepreneurial culture that will Brunei move closer to the final stage of development as defined by the WEF, an innovation-driven economy.

The full report can be downloaded here.

In what “pillars” of its economic environment does Brunei need to improve most? As an investor, where do you see the necessity for change? Let us know through Twitter: @insideinvestor

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Arno Maierbrugger

The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shed an interesting light on the current state of Southeast Asian economies, and specifically Brunei.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shed an interesting light on the current state of Southeast Asian economies, and specifically Brunei.

The Sultanate went up two notches from rank 28 to 26, which places its global competitiveness now among countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, China, but also Israel and Ireland. Within ASEAN, Brunei is third behind Singapore, which remained second on the global list, and very close behind Malaysia, which gained just one notch to rank 24 in this year’s report.

But after taking a closer look at this comprehensive study, Brunei still has some kind of deeper disparities in the assessment of its economic “pillars” that led to the WEF’s final ranking. For example, Brunei is number one worldwide in the valuation of its macroeconomic environment. The Sultanate also ranks very high in the “pillars” of institutions, health and primary education and labour market efficiency.

However, it is just in the upper middle field in terms of infrastructure, higher education, financial market development, innovation, business sophistication, and even worse in market goods readiness, and, last but not least, on rank 131 out of 148 in market size, something that comes not as a surprise.

The WEF concludes that Brunei is in a transition from stage one to two, whereby stage 1 is a factor-driven economy which is defined as an investment-heavy economy that relies strongly on the importation of global technology for local production processes – to an efficiency driven-economy, which means that Brunei is at the early stage of implementing efficiency enhancers to base growth on the development of more efficient production processes and increased product quality, as well as entrepreneurship. At such a stage, Brunei, interestingly, finds itself among 20 other economies worldwide, such as the Philippines, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Honduras, Bolivia, Iran, Mongolia or Venezuela.

So, not all is blissful on rank 24. The most problematic factors for doing business in Brunei have been cited by the WEF as being access to financing, poor work ethic among the national labour force, inefficient government bureaucracy and an insufficient capacity to innovate. On the upside, factors such as the favourable tax environment, political stability, the low crime rate and low inflation rate, as well as the good public health system have been lauded.

The report tells a lot more about Brunei and can be recommended for closer study to anyone who holds some form of public responsibility in the nation. But in a nutshell, if Brunei wants to surpass Malaysia which seems to be achievable until the next ranking is put together and close up as much as possible to Singapore, the first things to be addressed are to create a more flexible financial market and a reduction of the reliance on a foreign skilled workforce by improving skills training and labour-market competitiveness on the home turf, which automatically will spur an entrepreneurial culture that will Brunei move closer to the final stage of development as defined by the WEF, an innovation-driven economy.

The full report can be downloaded here.

In what “pillars” of its economic environment does Brunei need to improve most? As an investor, where do you see the necessity for change? Let us know through Twitter: @insideinvestor

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

brunei_times_logo

 

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