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Canada's competitiveness drops in global rankings

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OTTAWA -- Canada's economic competitiveness on the world stage is being pulled down by -- among other things -- government handling of the innovation file, says an annual report from the World Economic Forum.

Canada slipped two notches to 14th place in the forum's ranking of global economic competitiveness, released Wednesday.

While the survey finds Canada benefits from highly efficient markets and excellent infrastructure, it is "being dragged down by a less favourable assessment of the quality of its research institutions and the government's role in promoting innovation through procurement practices."

The report also notes a "slight" downward trend in Canada's performance in higher education, "driven by lower university enrolment rates and a decline in the extent to which staff is being trained at the workplace."

The forum ranks a country's competitiveness according to factors such as the state of its infrastructure and its ability to foster innovation.

The Conference Board of Canada, which assisted the forum in gathering the information, said the country is not "taking full advantage of our strong economic fundamentals."

"Too often, Canada fails to commercialize its good ideas into marketable products and services or capture the value from growth," said board president and CEO Daniel Muzyka.

"More needs to be done -- all levels of government, all sizes of business, and all types of educational institutions have an important role to play."

The board notes Canada has dropped five places in the global rankings since 2009.

Canada's banks, however, received top ranking for "soundness" from the World Economic Forum for a fifth consecutive year.

"Canadian banks are well-capitalized, well-managed and well-regulated and have remained prudent lenders, and this has been recognized by the World Economic Forum in the rankings," said Terry Campbell, president of the Canadian Bankers Association.

The United States saw its ranking drop two places to seventh this year, even though the world's largest economy saw its overall competitiveness rise on the back of its status as a global innovation powerhouse.

Still, the forum says it found some aspects of the U.S.'s political environment continue to raise concern among business leaders, "particularly the low public trust in politicians and a perceived lack of government efficiency."

 

-- CP, with files from AP

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2012 B7

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