Australia ‘more competitive’ despite weak economy

AUSTRALIA has jumped up a rung in global competitiveness despite falling well short of the world's leading nations on a range of economic measures.

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook placed Australia as the 17th most competitive country on earth, rising from 18th position last year.

Committee for Economic Development of Australia chief executive Professor Stephen Martin said it was Australia's first positive movement after five years of decline.

He noted that Australia jumped from 27th to 12th place on economic resilience - an indication of the business community becoming more confident in the country's ability to adapt to a changing economic environment on the back-end of the mining construction boom.

"The mining boom is over but the slack is being picked up by other sectors so while our economy is not going as fast as in the previous decade, we are still growing," Prof Martin said.

"However, lower (global domestic product) growth and low inflation relative to other countries have meant we haven't improved on core economic indicators."

Prof Martin said improvements in research and development and innovation rankings were very positive.

"It appears the business community is less worried about (research and development) moving overseas than a year ago with Australia moving up the rankings from 53 to 47," he said.

"Australia improved in the technological infrastructure category from 33 to 26 but this seems to be largely due to the increasing number of broadband subscribers.

"Improving internet bandwidth speed still has a long way to go, with Australia dropping in the rankings from 26 to 39 which means despite the roll-out of the NBN, other countries are getting better quicker."

Hong Kong ranked first and Switzerland second, displacing the United States which ranked third after holding the top ranking for the previous three years.

New Zealand came in 16th place, just ahead of Australia in the competitiveness stakes.

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