Panama and Costa Rica Are the Most Competitive Countries in Central America

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    Panama and Costa Rica stand out in the top positions of the competitiveness study, only surpassed by Chile, while Bolivia and Venezuela are positioned as the least competitive countries in the region, highlights the ADEN International Business School Competitiveness Ranking in its 2022 edition Based in more than 20 Latin American countries, since 2010 ADEN has carried out this ranking where it analyzes the competitiveness of 18 countries in Latin America that represent 99% of the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    Irvin A. Halman, president of the National Competitiveness Center of Panama, argued that improving competitiveness is essential, so public policies should focus on overcoming the effects of the pandemic on the labor market and articulating a strategy for change structural based on economic and social sustainability and the recovery of formal and decent employment. In addition, he added that dynamic strategies that can be quickly adapted to changes and new global trends must be established in order to be innovative, competitive and productive.

    Halman emphasized the development of education, although he pointed out that despite the fact that the country has a good score when compared to the rest of the nations in the region, “it shows that we still have a long way to go”. Panama ranks slightly below the Latin American average, but with wide gaps, falling below a score of 10 among the 18 countries analyzed in terms of education.

    The quality of education threatens Panama’s competitiveness, says the expert

    “These results are not very far from what the World Bank Human Capital Index indicates (last measurement 2020), where it is indicated that taking into account what children really learn, the expected years of school in Panama are only 6, 5 years and not the more than 10 years that were reported in the measurement,” he said.

    For Rubén Castillo Gil, president of the National Council of Private Enterprise (CoNEP), it is good that Panama appears well evaluated in a competitiveness study, although he estimates that there is still much to do to improve in terms of education and institutionality. In this regard, he indicated that it is obvious that “we have to strengthen our democratic institutions, in such a way that the citizen is at the center of all things and that he participates in public life with more determination”.

    According to the Competitiveness Ranking of ADEN International Business School, in the Central American region Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua present more marked competitive delays, derived according to the analysis due to problems of insecurity, macroeconomic instability, institutional aspects, and infrastructure. In this regard, El Salvador shows a considerable stagnation.

    The ranking clarifies that the estimates for 2022 show that those countries that have been most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic have lost positions and those that had a lesser impact probably show progress. As for the rest of the Latin American countries, the study places Mexico in fifth place, preceded by Uruguay, pointing out that an improvement in its score in the previous 3 years allowed it to distance itself from the group that follows it in the ranking.

    However, he warns that in the last 2 measurements this gap has narrowed and his score (68.9/100) begins to resemble that of Brazil and Colombia (66.8/100 and 66.3/100, respectively), although continues to show an acceptable level of competitiveness. In descending order, Colombia is followed by Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

    Regarding El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, it is indicated that in these cases it is already necessary to speak of less acceptable levels of country competitiveness, with important shortcomings in some aspects. As for Venezuela, the competitiveness ranking indicates that it presents serious problems of macroeconomic and institutional instability. “The country on the north coast of South America has once again suffered a setback in its score, which distances it from the rest and keeps it in a position of strong lag in terms of competitiveness and with little chance of recovery in the short term”, emphasize the analysis.

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