Saudi Arabia scores high on prices and tax efficiency: IMD survey

The Kingdom was ranked highly for its consumer price inflation policy and exchange rate management. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia scores high on prices and tax efficiency: IMD survey

  • The Kingdom ranks second in the world for pricing of goods and service
  • IMD said that most countries in the Middle East overcame political tensions in the region to experience improvements in their competitiveness

DUBAI: Competitive pricing and an efficient tax regime are two big highlights of the Saudi Arabian economy according to the annual ranking of global competitiveness by the Swiss business school IMD.
The Kingdom ranks second in the world for pricing of goods and services, and seventh for the efficiency of the government’s tax regime, according to the IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking 2018.
But despite improvements in some areas of the economy, Saudi Arabia slipped three places in the global rankings, to 39th position out of 63 countries assessed.
IMD said that most countries in the Middle East overcame political tensions in the region to experience improvements in their competitiveness. The UAE was the top ranked, in 7th position, mainly due to strengthening of its international trade.
In a survey of executive opinion which accompanied the rankings, large proportions of respondents identified Saudi Arabia’s cost of competitiveness (53.7 percent), the dynamism of its economy (52.4 percent) and its competitive tax regime (45.1 percent) as key reasons for the attractiveness of the economy.
The Kingdom was ranked highly for its consumer price inflation policy and exchange rate management, and for its efficiency in assessing and collecting consumer and other taxes. Expenditure on education was also highly rated.
However, IMD also identified five key challenges in the current year to enhance overall competitiveness: Balancing the budget deficit and mitigating exposure to oil price fluctuations; developing legal and regulatory frameworks to support privatization and the development of strategic sectors in the Vision 2030 strategy.
It also stressed the need to develop human capital and increase workforce participation for men and women; continue the changes to the fees structure for business startups; and the need to adopt international best practice for licensing activities.
The US was the highest ranked country in the survey, now in its 30th year, overtaking Hong Kong in the top slot. Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland made up the rest of the top five countries.
The return of the US to the top slot was driven by its strength in economic performance and infrastructure, which were both ranked number one in the world. Nordic countries and Canada comprised the rest of the top ten, along with the UAE.
Two big risers in the 2018 rankings are Austria (18th, up seven places) and China (13th, up five places).
Professor Arturo Bris, director of the Geneva-based World Competitiveness Center, said: “This year’s results reinforce a crucial trait of the competitiveness landscape. Countries undertake different paths toward competitiveness transformation. Countries at the top of the rankings share an above average performance across all competitiveness factors, but their competitiveness mix varies. One economy, for example, may build its competitiveness strategy around a particular aspect such as its tangible and intangible infrastructure; another may approach competitiveness through their governmental efficiency.”
The bottom five economies show a slight change in their performance especially those countries that have experienced economic and political distress in the last few years. While Mongolia (62) and Venezuela (63) remained in the last positions, Ukraine (59) and Brazil (60) improved.
Brazil’s improvement is the first since 2010 due to a positive shift in real GDP and employment. Ukraine increased because of its business efficiency. Their rise pushed Croatia down two places to 61, IMD said.


LIVE: Future Investment Initiative opens in Saudi Arabia

Updated 47 sec ago
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LIVE: Future Investment Initiative opens in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The three-day Future Investment Initiatives (FII), which starts today, is expected to attract thousands of delegates and see deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

The three-day event will likely see investment partnerships from Russia and China being forged, as noted by Ellen Wald, president of the Transversal Consulting think-tank and author of the recent book “Saudi Inc,” with executives still looking to do business at the Riyadh meeting despite some having pulled out.

 

 

Executives from the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia-China Investment Fund and electronics giant Samsung are listed to speak at the event, joining Saudi speakers including Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, head of the Public Investment Fund, and sports official Princess Reema bint Bandar.

 

 

“Investing in transformation,” “technology as opportunity” and “advancing human potential” are among the FII’s themes. Held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, the three-day event is billed as a “blueprint for the 22nd century.”

 

 

Click for more of our coverage of the Future Investment Initiatives.