China leaps 7 spots to No. 18 in world competitiveness ranking

10:34 | 07/06/2017 Cooperation

China saw a big jump in the latest competitiveness ranking by Swiss business school IMD, moving from 25th to 18th place. Its rise was driven by President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative, which focuses on international trade as a way of boosting the country's economic development.

Old houses surrounded by new apartment buildings in the Guangfuli neighborhood of Shanghai - Photo: Reuters

China's ascent is also attributable to improved government and business efficiency, according to IMD.

As for the broader region, the school noted the consistency of competitiveness among Asian economies. Hong Kong held on to the top spot, while Singapore rose one notch to third. Taiwan (14th), Japan (26th) and the Philippines (41st) also occupied the same rungs as last year. The slight anomalies were Malaysia, which dropped five spots to 24th place, and India, which slipped four rungs to 45th.

Asia's durability stood in contrast to Europe, which saw declines by previously well-placed economies such as Poland (down five slots to 38th), Italy (down nine positions to 44th) and Hungary (down six rungs to 52nd).

Paving the way

Xi's pet Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the "One Belt, One Road" program, is aimed at expanding China's economic sphere by connecting countries through infrastructure, such as roads and railroads. Despite international criticism that China is trying to dump its excessive commodities on neighboring countries in the process, the initiative has resulted in a big jump in competitiveness.

IMD also hinted that the initiative could benefit other Asian countries as well. "An improvement in infrastructure in these countries could provide the path to an advancement in the competitiveness placement," the report said.

A notable change in the latest ranking is the absence of the U.S. in the top three. It was demoted to fourth place, its lowest position in five years -- perhaps a consequence of the fluctuating policies of the Donald Trump administration.

Mongolia ranked the lowest in Asia, in 62nd place.

Economies are ranked based on an analysis of more than 340 criteria, grouped in four main categories: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

Hong Kong tops IMD's list again while Singapore grabs third place.