Taiwan has slipped to 13th in the world in terms of its ability to exploit information and communications technology, according to a survey published by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).
The WEF published its 2006-2007 Global Information Technology Report on Wednesday. The report assessed the impact of information and communications technology (ICT) on the development process and competitiveness of 122 nations around the world in terms of a Networked Readiness Index (NRI).
The NRI measures a range of factors that affect a country's ability to harness information technologies for economic competitiveness and development. It also establishes a broad international framework, mapping out the enabling factors of such capacity.
Taiwan ranked seventh in the WEF's 2005-2006 NRI, which also marked the first time the nation had ranked among the top 10 in the forum's annual report.
Government officials attributed the drop to a combination of factors, including Taiwan's poor regulatory environment and European countries' rapid progress in ICT development.
In line with the EU's "i2010" program, European countries have invested heavily in ICT infrastructure in recent years, which has borne fruit, with Nordic countries dominating the top of the rankings in the WEF's latest report.
Denmark topped the list, followed by Sweden. Singapore, which ranked first in the previous survey, was the top Asian nation at third overall. Rounding out the top 10 list were Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the US, Iceland, Britain and Norway, in that order.
Taiwan ranked third among Asian countries, lagging behind only Singapore and Hong Kong, which ranked 12th in the world, but slightly ahead of Japan, ranked 14th, and South Korea, ranked 19th.
Officials from the Executive Yuan's National Information and Communications Initiative (NICI) Task Force said Taiwan's government budget for ICT development has repeatedly been cut by the opposition-controlled legislature in recent years.
Last year, Taiwan's ICT spending only accounted for 0.45 percent of its GDP, lower than Britain's 1.19 percent, the US' 1.08 percent, Singapore's 0.83 percent, Japan's 0.8 percent and South Korea's 0.58 percent.
Taiwan's regulatory environment ranked 31st in the world in the latest NRI survey. Among the criteria used to rate a country's regulatory environment were judicial independence, for which Taiwan ranked 53rd; legislative efficiency, for which it ranked 49th; efficiency of legal framework, 41st; protection of property rights, 39th; and intellectual property rights protection, 26th.