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Why is Singapore the World’s Most Competitive Economy in 2019?

This week Singapore claimed top spot in The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s annual Global Competitiveness Report, knocking the US into second place, with Hong Kong remaining in 3rd.

Singapore's nightly lights show

With a 2019 GCI score of 84.8 out of 100, Singapore is the country closest to the frontier of competitiveness, according to the report. The country ranks first in terms of infrastructure (which includes road quality, efficiency of seaport and airport services and transport connectivity), health, labour market functioning and financial system development, and achieves a nearly perfect score for macroeconomic stability. It’s high performance in terms of market efficiency is driven by the fact that Singapore is the most open economy in the world.

Singapore also benefited last year from global trade tensions through trade diversion.

But Singapore is not perfect, said the report. Going forward, it cautioned, in order to become a global innovation hub, Singapore will need to promote entrepreneurship and further improve its skills base. While Singapore ranks 2nd for the quality of public institutions, behind Finland, the country has often been encouraged to review its position on press freedom and increase its commitment to sustainability.

The report added that the East Asia and the Pacific region, led by Singapore, is now the most competitive in the world, followed by Europe and North America. Hong Kong SAR (3rd) and Japan (6th) also feature in the top 10. Vietnam (67th) is the country whose score improves the most globally.

This year’s Global Competitiveness Report is the latest edition of the series launched in 1979 that provides an annual assessment of the drivers of productivity and long-term economic growth.

The index maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organized into 12 themes. Each indicator, using a scale from 0 to 100, shows how close an economy is to the ideal state or “frontier” of competitiveness.

The pillars, which cover broad socio-economic elements are: institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, product market, labour market, the financial system, market size, business dynamism and innovation capability.

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