Switzer­land is the world’s most com­pet­i­tive econ­omy

Business Sphere - - SWITZERLAND - By Matthew Allen

Switzer­land has been judged as the most com­pet­i­tive econ­omy on the planet for the eighth year in a row by World Eco­nomic Forum (WEF) re­searchers. How­ever, the alpine coun­try might find its pole po­si­tion tested if it in­tro­duces strict immigration quo­tas, the an­nual re­port con­cludes. Switzer­land achieved its high­est score of 5.8 out of 7 in the WEF Global Com­pet­i­tive­nes­sex­ter­nal link Re­port 2016/2017. It achieved top marks in four of the 11 cri­te­ria: labour mar­ket ef­fi­ciency, busi­ness so­phis­ti­ca­tion, in­no­va­tion and tech­no­log­i­cal readi­ness. Its weak­nesses are per­ceived to be deep­en­ing de­fla­tion, low lev­els of women par­tic­i­pat­ing in the work­force and the amount of red tape hold­ing back the cre­ation of new com­pa­nies. “Switzer­land ar­guably pos­sesses one of the world’s most fer­tile in­no­va­tion ecosys­tems,” the re­port states. It adds that Swiss com­pa­nies have “an un­matched ca­pac­ity to at­tract the best tal­ent and large multi­na­tion­als”. It is in this area that WEF rings alarm bells for the fu­ture. Early next year Swiss leg­is­la­tors must de­cide how to im­ple­ment a 2014 peo­ple’s ini­tia­tive that calls for curbs on immigration. The po­lit­i­cal de­bate has al­ready soured Swiss-Euro­pean Union re­la­tions and could dam­age its com­pet­i­tive­ness if not han­dled cor­rectly, the re­port warns. “If Switzer­land adopts strict quo­tas then this could be very bad for its com­pet­i­tive­ness,” one of the re­port’s au­thors, Thierry Geiger, told swiss­info.ch. The po­lit­i­cal hot potato “may well have a bear­ing on [Switzer­land’s] abil­ity to at­tract and re­tain tal­ent”, it states. WEF founder Klaus Sch­wab is also con­cerned about a global trend to­wards pro­tec­tion­ism. “De­clin­ing open­ness in the global econ­omy is harm­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness,” he said. Michael Hen­gart­ner, the rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Zurich who is also the head of the um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion swis­suni­ver­si­ties, said the immigration is­sue is harm­ing Swiss sci­en­tific re­search. The num­ber of Swiss re­searchers in­volved in the Hori­zon 2020 Euro­pean re­search pro­gramme had dropped by half since the 2014 ini­tia­tive vote, he told the Sch­weiz am Son­ntag news­pa­per.

Doris Leuthard, Pres­i­dent of Switzer­land

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