WEF: China Faces Long March For Competitiveness

By Agence France-Presse Corruption, unstable government policy and inefficient bureaucracy are stifling China's competitiveness despite the Asian giant's huge economic strides in recent years, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF). China dropped two places in the WEF's annual ranking of the most competitive economies this year to 46th position, despite economic growth of about 9% a year for the past decade. The 1,000 executives surveyed by the Geneva-based business forum also cited inadequate infrastructure and poor access to financing among their "most problematic factors for doing business" in China. While the world's most populous country was on track to be the world's second-largest economy by 2020, its business environment was uneven, WEF's chief economist Augusto Claros-Lopez said. The overall ranking of the 2004 Global Competitiveness Report, which was headed by Finland, was dominated by north European countries, which have carved a controversial reputation for the high degree of state social support that they offer. Fourth-placed Taiwan's technological capacity helped to make it the most competitive Asian economy in the ranking, just behind the United States and Sweden. Singapore, in seventh position, continued to set the pace for the 104 countries in terms of its macroeconomic environment. Japan maintained its surge up the chart from a 21st position three years ago by moving to ninth place thanks to its economic recovery and the improved transparency of public sector institutions that drew praise from business leaders. Australia dropped out of the overall top 10 to 14th place this year. Hong Kong was 24th in the ranking and South Korea dropped 11 places to 29th. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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