WEF ranks South Korea behind Ghana, Uganda in financial sector

Hours after the World Economic Forum released the rankings, Seoul’s top financial regulator said the Swiss organization used substandard methodology.
By Elizabeth Shim   |   Sept. 30, 2015 at 1:31 PM
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SEOUL, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- South Korea's financial regulator said the World Economic Forum fell short of making objective comparisons after the Swiss organization ranked Korea's financial markets 87th behind Ghana, Uganda and Bhutan.

The forum, best known for its annual winter meeting in Davos, ranked South Korea 26th in overall global competitiveness among 140-member countries, The Korea Herald reported.

WEF said in its annual Global Competitiveness Report published Wednesday that Seoul could improve its labor and financial sectors, and assigned rankings based on 114 items distributed unevenly across 12 categories. South Korea was handed poor marks in institutional, labor market efficiency and financial market development. The report read, "Korea remains one of the poorest performers among advanced economies" in those areas.

Hours after the forum released the rankings showing South Korea at 119th in ease of access to loans, 113th in soundness of banks, 99th in availability of financial services and 87th for financial market development, Seoul's Financial Services Commission issued a statement that said the Swiss organization used substandard methodology to assess Asia's fourth-largest economy.

"[The] WEF's evaluation falls short of making objective comparisons among countries, since it is mainly composed of questionnaire surveys," the FSC said in a press release.

The forum said in its report it factors in respondents' answers from an executive opinion survey that asks participants to identify and rank the five most problematic factors for doing business in their country. The results showed that South Korea's financial market development had slipped to 87th from 80th in 2014, Yonhap reported. The WEF also ranked South Korea, an advanced economy, behind Uganda, Ghana and Bhutan in this category, but ahead of Croatia.

South Korea's FSC said that a World Bank survey of 143 countries indicated bank accounts held by South Koreans age 15 or older was at 94.4 percent, higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average of 94 percent, and that the world's 15th-largest stock market, with a market capitalization of $1.2 trillion, is in Seoul.

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