Channel NewsAsia

US rises to third in competitiveness table, Singapore maintains second

The United States has risen two notches in the economic competitiveness stakes, the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday (Sep 3).

GENEVA: The United States has risen two notches in the economic competitiveness stakes, the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday (Sep 3).

"The United States improves its competitiveness position for the second consecutive year, climbing two places to third on the back of gains to its institutional framework and innovation scores," said the WEF, which issues an annual ranking. The United States had held the top rank seven years ago but slid to seventh amid the financial crisis.

The WEF, which organises the annual Davos meeting of the global political and business elite, said that Switzerland, where it is based, remained the world's most competitive economy. Singapore came in second, holding its ranking from the previous year.

Finland and Germany, which had been ranked third and fourth respectively, both dropped down one rung on the ladder. The highest climber in the top 10 was Japan, which moved to sixth place from its previous ninth.

Hong Kong and the Netherlands held their berths of seventh and eighth, while Britain gained one place, rising to ninth. Sweden fell from sixth to 10th.

"The leading economies in the index all possess a track record in developing, accessing and utilising available talent, as well as in making investments that boost innovation," said the WEF.

"These smart and targeted investments have been possible thanks to a coordinated approach based on strong collaboration between the public and private sectors," it added.

Below the top-rankers, the WEF underlined that a string of economic crisis casualties had gained ground, lauding their "significant strides to improve the functioning of their markets and the allocation of productive resources".

Portugal rose from 51st to 36th, and Greece, from 91st to 81st. Spain remained in 35th place for the second year running.

The WEF also pointed to countries facing "major competitiveness challenges". It cited France and Italy, unchanged at 23rd and 49th respectively, saying they "appear not to have fully engaged in this process".

"While the divide between a highly competitive North and a lagging South and East persists, a new outlook on the European competitiveness divide between countries implementing reforms and those that are not can now also be observed," the WEF said.

Examining eight of the world's largest emerging markets, the WEF said they continued to face difficulties in improving competitiveness. Saudi Arabia fell to 24th from its previous ranking of 20th, while Turkey dropped one notch from 44th, and South Africa dipped to 56th from 53rd.

Mexico slid six places from 55th to 61st, while India dropped 11, sliding from 60th to 71st, and Nigeria was down to 127th from 120th.

The stand-out performer among emerging markets was China, which gained one place, moving to 28th.

The WEF began measuring economic competitiveness in 2004. Its ranking is based on a raft of criteria: institutions, infrastructure and the macroeconomic environment, plus health and education, goods and labour market efficiency, financial market development, technology, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.