YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia is continuing to trail most countries of the world in terms of the competitiveness of its domestic economy, according to an annual global survey released on Thursday.
Armenia ranks only 98th in the Geneva-based World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) of 139 economies around the world. Neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia occupy 57th and 93rd places respectively in the rankings.
Each of the countries surveyed was assigned a GCI score based on 12 “pillars of competitiveness,” including the efficiency of public institutions and the labor market, the macroeconomic environment, financial market sophistication and the quality of public healthcare and education.
A slight increase in the Armenian GCI score registered by the WEF in the past year was not enough to improve the country’s position in the rankings. The survey found “notable positive changes” in the fields of health, primary education and higher education. But it said those were mostly nullified by a “significant downward trend” in the macroeconomic situation, an apparent reference to last year’s sharp contraction of the Armenian economy.
“Armenia’s competitive advantages are the low level of redundancy costs, effective labor market regulations, ease of procedures for starting a business, as well as the low business impact of malaria, crime and violence,” concludes the survey. “The list of major disadvantages highlights competition issues, such as effectiveness of anti-monopoly policy, intensity of local competition and extent of market dominance, as well as capital market deficiencies, such as access to local equity and venture capital financing.”
“Our score is rising much more slowly than others countries’ score,” said Manuk Hergnian of the Yerevan-based Economy and Values Center which conducted the Armenian segment of the WEF research.
“That the Armenian government is doing something to improve legal procedures for the opening and management of businesses is evident,” he told journalists, presenting the finding of the survey. “That is reflected in World Bank surveys [on the ease of doing business] that mainly gauge formal business regulations. But problems start when it comes to the implementation of laws, which is what this indicator of competitiveness primarily measure.”
Commenting on government measures that would make the Armenian economy more competitive, Hergnian singled out the need to strengthen business competition and enforce the country’s anti-trust legislation in earnest.