Belgium maintains its competitive edge - survey

9th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The new ranking in the ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010’ of the World Economic Forum (WEF) demonstrates that Belgium is continuing to maintain its competitive edge.

And even more than that, it has moved one step up, demonstrating that Belgium has managed to limit the effects of the crisis. The general tendency in the rankings this year was a drop for many countries which previously have performed very well in the rankings. Belgium is not doing as well on a number of points, but it is remarkable that it has limited the damage, whilst many other countries have significantly dropped behind.

This year Belgium was the 18th most competitive economy in the world. Therefore for the second year in a row it moved up slightly: 19th place in 2008 and 20th place in 2007 and 2006. Belgium has its excellent healthcare and primary education systems (worldwide 3rd position) to thank for its position at number 18. The position of higher education and training remains good, although there was a slight drop (worldwide 8th position instead of 6th in 2008). The same can also be said for the efficiency of the goods market and infrastructure. Belgium needs to take care to ensure that the decline does not continue. Innovation and business sophistication are also contributing to our competitive position. 

It is noticeable that our primary neighbours continue to be more competitive than Belgium. The Belgian government’s debts are part of the explanation for this and continue to affect macroeconomic stability in Belgium. The enormous tax burden and uneven efficiency in the job market have also ensured a decline in competitiveness.  Finally, business leaders have also observed that access to financial means was problematical in 2009. 

Change at the top

Switzerland replaces the United States in first place. Firstly, the US, where the crisis originated, has seen its competitiveness decline through weaker financial markets. The business leaders have specifically highlighted the increasing difficulty in accessing finance. Secondly, the drop in position by the US is attributable to a reduced macroeconomic stability with an enormous government debt at its base.

The Scandinavian model has maintained its position at the top well: Sweden stands in 4th place, Denmark 5th and Finland 6th. 

The strong rise by Singapore to 3rd position is also remarkable. 

Belgium's neighbours continue to be placed above it. Germany stands in 7th position, same as last year. The Netherlands stands in 10th position this year and has therefore dropped two places compared to last year. The United Kingdom is in 13th position this year, whilst France is in 16th place. 

Crisis has an impact

The financial crisis appears to have affected most countries. The financial solidity of Belgian banks has plummeted from 7th to 95th place. The US has experienced a drop from 40th to 108th place. Even The Netherlands (from 6th to 70th) and the UK (from 44th to 126th) have shown clear signs of being affected by the crisis.

Belgium maintains its competitive edge 

One rung up the ladder in the latest rankings from the World Economic Forum

Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School is the Belgian partner in these WEF rankings and is responsible for the survey of Belgium business leaders. These rankings are based on an extensive survey of 12614 business leaders in 133 countries combined with various objective data measuring the competitive strength of the countries. 

0 Comments To This Article