The economy of Jordan has become more competitive at a global level in the last year while those of Egypt, Turkey and Israel have become relatively less so, according to an annual assessment by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Jordan was ranked 28th out of 49 countries in the WEF’s global competitiveness report for 1996, up from 41st in the previous year’s report. Israel was ranked one place lower in 1996 at 2 , Turkey was two down at 42 and Egypt was at 29, down from 27.

The WEF, which is based in Geneva, describes itself as a non-partisan ‘international membership organisation integrating leaders from business, government and academia.’ It hosts annual economic summits at the Swiss town of Davos as well as regional meetings around the world. Before this year, the WEF produced the report in tandem with the Institute of Management Development, but the two bodies have since parted company.

The report defines competitiveness as ‘the ability of a nation’s economy to make rapid and sustained gains in living standards.’ The index is based on eight clusters of factors, including an economy’s openness to international trade and finance, the role of the state, labour market flexibility, the development of financial markets and infrastructure, technology and business management. The index measures potential for growth from an existing base. Egypt was ranked more highly than Italy, South Africa, Poland, India, Hungary, Venezuela, Brazil and Russia.

Openness Jordan scored relatively highly on the size of its government and on taxation policy and for the strength of its civil institutions and the rule of law. It scored less well for openness and the skills of its management.

Egypt did well on openness, management skills and technology, but ranked 40th out of 49 countries on labour market flexibility. Turkey scored badly for openness and financial factors such as risk and financial stability, but got better marks for management. Israel was among the top 10 countries for labour market flexibility and the top 20 for technology and management. Its ranking was held back due to low marks for fiscal and savings policy, the size of the government and its interventionism.

All four states also feature in a separate survey on businessmen’s perceptions of corruption by Transparency International (TI), an organisation based in Germany. The survey, based on 10 international polls and reported by the Financial Times newspaper on 3 June, defines corruption as ‘the misuse of public power for private benefits.’ It does not indicate how corrupt a particular country is, only the extent to which it is perceived as corrupt.

Out of 54 countries Israel ranked 14th, Jordan 30th, Turkey 33rd and Egypt 41st, above Indonesia, India, Russia and China.

The survey says businessmen in the polls see Pakistan as the second most corrupt country in the sample, with only Nigeria ranking lower. Most of the countries seen as least corrupt were in the developing world.

The paper quoted TI’s chairman Peter Eigen as saying this was no consolation because companies in developed countries paid most of the bribes on international contracts.