Hong Kong retained its seventh-place ranking for a second year in the annual Global Competitiveness Index released by the World Economic Forum yesterday, with middling scores on education and innovation preventing it from rising higher.
The index ranks the competitiveness of 144 economies, based on indicators covering infrastructure, education, institutions and nine other categories.
To boost its competitiveness ranking, Hong Kong must improve higher education, where it ranked 22nd, and innovation, where it fell three places to 26th.
The city's limited availability of engineers and the standard of local research institutions dragged down its innovation ranking.
The report has been compiled since 2004, and Hong Kong has ranked among the world's top 10 economies since 2012.
Switzerland led the index and Singapore ranked second for a fourth consecutive year, topping three out of the index's 12 categories as its focus on education helped maintain its position, the report said.
China moved up one position to 28th, a full 40 places ahead of regional economic rival India.
Hong Kong was placed first for infrastructure on the strength of its transport facilities, and its stable, trustworthy economy lifted its financial-market ranking.
Another bright spot for Hong Kong was its technological readiness, which the report defined as access to information and communication technologies, which it described as critical to enabling innovation.
Japan rose to sixth position from the ninth in the previous year - the largest improvement in the top 10 - thanks to small rises across categories and continued strength in business sophistication and innovation.
Willy Lin Sun-mo, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers' Council, said the city's current business mindset was inward-looking and blamed others and the government for misfortunes, while the mainland's growing middle class had developed a more international outlook.
"They have a more international view whereas in Hong Kong we see lots of the new generation is more isolated; they build a firewall because they are not as competitive," Lin said. "That has started to erode our international vision."
Hong Kong's next generation must improve its English ability to become global citizens and maintain a competitive edge, Lin said. He added that Hong Kong's political uncertainty was a concern for many, while a third runway at the airport was needed to keep pace with other airports in the region.