THE GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS REPORT 2008-2009
AN OVERVIEW OF CARICOM STATES
ARTICLE BY ROSALIENE BACCHUS

On October 8, 2008, in the wake of the world financial crisis, the World Economic Forum (see Footnote 1)  
released
The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 (see Footnote 2).   Despite the collapse of its financial
market and subsequent credit crunch, the United States still ranks overall in the top position. European
economies continue to dominate the top ten: Switzerland (2nd), Denmark (3rd), Sweden (4th), Finland (6th),
Germany (7th), and the Netherlands (8th). Singapore ranked fifth, with Japan and Canada coming up in ninth
and tenth place respectively.

Country profiles for 134 global economies, with detailed
Global Competitiveness Indexes (CGI), provide a
valuable resource for evaluating the factors affecting their global competitiveness. This evaluation is possible
for five CARICOM member states included in the Report: Barbados (47th), Jamaica (86th), Trinidad and
Tobago (92nd), Suriname (103rd), and Guyana (115th).

Analyses of their country profiles indicate that all five economies gained their highest scores for health and
primary education. Barbados led with the highest score (6.3 out of 7), ranking in tenth position out of 134.
Barbados also obtained high scores for its institutions (5.2) and infrastructure (5.2). Jamaica and Trinidad
and Tobago gained average scores (3.4 to 3.7). Guyana and Suriname scored very poorly in infrastructure
(2.8 and 2.7). The five states scored below-average for innovation (2.5 to 3.4). All shared the lowest score
for market size (1.6 to 2.8).

Classified as an economy in transition from an efficiency-driven to an innovation-driven stage of development,
Barbados’ competitive advantage relies on its institutions, infrastructure, education and training, and
technological readiness. CGI rankings reveal weaknesses in macroeconomic stability, government
bureaucracy, access to financing, and efficiency of goods and labor markets.

Like Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago is also in transition to an innovation-driven economy. According to its
CGI ratings, its strengths rest in macroeconomic stability, health and education, efficiency of goods and labor
markets, and the financial market. Competitive disadvantages are evident in its institutions and infrastructure.
Survey respondents cite crime and theft as the major problematic factor for doing business.

Jamaica also suffers disadvantages caused by crime and theft. An economy at the efficiency-driven stage of
development, Jamaica gains competitiveness not only through its health and primary education but also on
the efficiency of goods and labor markets, a sophisticated financial market, and technological readiness.
Deficiencies exist in crime and violence, government bureaucracy, and higher education and training.

Suriname, like Jamaica, is an efficiency-driven economy. Its competitive advantages stem from macro-
economic stability, health and primary education, and efficiency of the labor market. Drawbacks lie in an
inefficient government bureaucracy, corruption, poor infrastructure, and limited access to finance.

Guyana is a factor-driven economy based chiefly on unskilled labor and natural resources as competitive
advantages. The best performance is in health and primary education and labor market efficiency. All other
CGI scores are generally mediocre, accounting for the economy’s overall low CGI ranking.

As the world economy continues to slow in the year ahead, only economies with competitive advantage will
achieve success in the global market.


Footnotes
  1. The World Economic Forum, first conceived in January 1971, is an independent, international organization incorporated as a
    Swiss non-profit foundation. They believe that economic progress without social development is not sustainable, while
    social development without economic progress is not feasible. The Forum’s 1,000 member companies are at the forefront of
    driving the world economy forward. For more information, visit the Forum’s website at www.weforum.org.
  2. Copy of the full Report is available for download on The World Economic Forum website.


Article published in the Guyana Journal, Guyana Journal Publication, Inc., New York, USA, November 2008, p.10.
Reprinted with permission.
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