[EDITORIALS]Dismal report on our economy

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[EDITORIALS]Dismal report on our economy

According to “World Competitiveness Ratings 2004” released by the the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland, the competitiveness of South Korea falls below that of India.
South Korea was also ranked behind Taiwan, Malaysia and China in international competitiveness, according to the survey. After its competitiveness fell behind that of India, we have become the least competitive country among the leading Asian nations. It is frustrating to find South Korea in such a dismal state.
The details are even more dismaying. Labor relations were the lowest-ranked among the 60 countries surveyed. The consistency and efficiency of economic policies and the quality of university education ranked about 50th. But the reform-mindedness and international experience of business executives were highly rated, as was the infrastructure for science and technology, including the broadband Internet network and the number of patents granted.
Labor relations, politics, government and education are the sectors that drag down Korea’s competitiveness. The most serious problem is that these sectors do not show any signs of improvement, although the problems have long been known. While Korea’s competitors made strides in these fields, Korea did not move an inch. We have to ask ourselves what effort Koreans exerted to strengthen competitiveness.
The annual report shows what should be done to strengthen international competitiveness. If we do not have flexible labor markets and stable labor relations, strengthening Korea’s competitiveness is a dim possibility. The government and politicians must stop dragging businesses down; they must find ways to help them. Old debates about whether the priority should be growth or distribution are no help.
A ray of hope is that Hyun Myung-kwan, the vice chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, and Roh Hoe-chan, secretary general of the Democratic Labor Party, have met, and that politicians have pledged to give first priority to the livelihood of the people. We hope that all parties will upgrade the debate and produce practical and productive ideas for strengthening Korea’s competitiveness.
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