Australia suffers slight drop in Global Competitiveness Ranking
The most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness across the globe, the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-15 takes an in-depth look at the competitiveness landscape of 144 different economies. By its definition, competitiveness is the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine a countries level of productivity.
The report gives observations of things that help drive productivity and prosperity, while also providing a place for conversation between government, business and civil society about what it takes to improve economic prosperity. After all, the level of productivity sets the level of prosperity that can be earned by a country’s economy.
The Global Competitiveness Index is made up of 12 separate pillars that show different aspects of competitiveness. This edition has an emphasis on innovation and skills, which are the keys to economic growth. Although these factors impact competitiveness and the global economy begins to recover from economic problems, there are still significant risks due to strained geopolitical situation, increased income inequality and possible tightened financial condition.
Because of this, it is important to address these structural challenges in order to ensure more sustainable and inclusive growth. Now more than ever, the need to re-establish sustainable growth and improve living standards throughout the globe is needed through cooperative leadership from business, government and civil society.
While Singapore came in second globally behind Switzerland and holds the top spot in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia dropped to 22nd in the world and sixth in the Asia-Pacific. The report believes excessive government regulation and a lack of wages and hiring flexibility were some of the reasons for Australia’s drop in the rankings.
Below is a look at the Asia-Pacific rankings:
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.