Falling four rungs to 25th in the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2012-2013 does not put Malaysia in the stream of losers. Considering the 'near perfection' of the report, the country is still among the world's strongest and vibrant economies and among the top 10 in Asia-Pacific region, much placed than China and India.
The GCR by the World Economic Forum (WEF) based in Geneva covers 144 countries still ranked Malaysia as among the top 20 per cent of the most competitive economies.
We have also been upgraded to the transition range of development from Efficiency-Driven Stage towards Innovation-Driven Stage of Development, based on our GDP per capita increase to US$9,700 from US$8,423 previously.
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In other words, the 25th ranking does not reflect significant downward trend to its major sectors although some may need re-adjustment and stronger push.
Maintaining its score of 5.1, the most notable advantage is found in the country's efficient and competitive market for goods and services and its remarkably supportive financial sector, as well as its business-friendly institutional framework.
In a region where many economies suffer from the lack of transparency and the presence of red tape, Malaysia stands out as particularly successful at tackling those two issues. Yet, despite the progress achieved, much remains to be done to put the country on a more solid growth path, according to the report, released today.
Of course, the Opposition and its media will capitalise on the rank issue but they need to know that the countries that overtook Malaysia - South Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand and United Arab Emirates - are exercising massive development and infrastructure plan. However, in terms of economic growth, we still fared better.
Malaysia's competitive strengths - apart from its efficient and competitive market for goods and services, which ranked 11th - are in the areas of legal rights index (1st), pay and productivity (4th), government services for improved business performance (new indicator, ranked 4th), investor protection, agriculture policy costs and government procurement of advanced technology products (4th) and extent of staff training (7th).
Others are burden of government regulation and the ease of access to loans (8th), financing through local equity market (9th), business impact of rules on FDIs (10th) and efficiency of legal framework in challenging regulations (10th).
Nevertheless, the report noted some factors that had adversely affected Malaysia's competitiveness, mainly in the areas of government budget balance and debt, health, crime and technological readiness.
These are women in labour force (119), government balance budget (110), redundancy costs, weeks of salary (108), secondary education enrollment rate, gross percentage (103), general government debt in terms of percentage of GDP (100) and malaria cases per 100,000 population (86).
Most alarming are broadband internet subscription per 100 population (68th) and mobile broadband subscription per 100 population (64th).
This factor, together with the lack of progress in the country's focus in promoting the use of ICT, will significantly undermine Malaysia's efforts to become a knowledge-based economy by the end of the decade, or in other words, in attaining a fully-developed nation by the year 2020.
TOP 30 COUNTRIES
7. United States
8. United Kingdom
9. Hong Kong SAR
13. Taiwan, China
18. Saudi Arabia
19. Republic of Korea
23. New Zealand
24. United Arab Emirates
28. Brunei Darussalam