News / Economy

Economic Powerhouses Slip in Global Competitiveness Rankings

Two of the four iconic smokestacks of the former Battersea Power Station, which is to be redeveloped into retail units and housing by a Malaysian consortium, are seen in London, September 5, 2012.Two of the four iconic smokestacks of the former Battersea Power Station, which is to be redeveloped into retail units and housing by a Malaysian consortium, are seen in London, September 5, 2012.
x
Two of the four iconic smokestacks of the former Battersea Power Station, which is to be redeveloped into retail units and housing by a Malaysian consortium, are seen in London, September 5, 2012.
Two of the four iconic smokestacks of the former Battersea Power Station, which is to be redeveloped into retail units and housing by a Malaysian consortium, are seen in London, September 5, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
The World Economic Forum is warning governments to enact long-term measures to enhance competitiveness or jeopardize their future economic prosperity. Switzerland, Singapore and Finland top this year’s Global Competitiveness rankings of 144 countries, while Burundi holds up the bottom. 

Northern and Western European countries dominate the top 10 most competitive countries in the world. Asia is heavily represented with Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan figuring among the most competitive economies.
 
The United States remains an extremely productive economy, but has continued a four-year decline, falling two places to seventh position in the Global Competitiveness rankings.  

World Economic Forum Lead Economist Jennifer Blanke tells VOA the United States is still the world’s innovation powerhouse. She says its markets work efficiently and it has some of the best universities, but it has some serious weaknesses cutting into its competitive edge.

“There is continuing concern about the macro-economic environment, continuing debt levels - the inability to get the spending under control and really political deadlock about how to even deal with this issue," says Blanke. "And, this is leading to concern about political institutions in general. So, the business sector has concerns about its confidence in politicians to make the sorts of decisions that are needed going forward.

The report finds the Asian and Pacific remains among the fastest growing regions worldwide, with several economies performing strongly - notably Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea.
   
But China has dropped three places to 29th position in the competitiveness ranking. Nevertheless, the report says China continues to lead the group of large emerging-market economies. Of the so-called BRICS group, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, only Brazil has moved up in the rankings. Economist Blanke says it is not clear where the world will have to look for growth in the coming years as the Chinese and Indian economies slow down. She says countries need to consolidate their situations at home.

“The Europeans really need to deal with their sovereign debt crisis and get some of these countries growing again," she says. "They need to be thinking beyond the short-term. They need to get this macro-house in order, but then they need to be thinking about the sorts of investments that will get them there. Equally, the Chinese, as I mentioned, need to continue working on their markets."

The report says the Middle East and North Africa continue to be affected by political turbulence. Syria does not appear in this year’s list because researchers could not collect the data needed.

Authors of the report find Sub-Saharan Africa has grown impressively during the past 15 years, registering growth rates of more than five percent in the past two years.

South Africa and Mauritius are in the top half of the rankings. Ghana and Rwanda have moved up 11 and seven positions respectively. Liberia and Seychelles this year have entered the competitiveness rankings for the first time.

But the report says Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind the rest of the world in competitiveness, and the continent will continue to be a minor player until it undertakes necessary government and institutional reforms.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9012
JPY
USD
122.90
GBP
USD
0.6400
CAD
USD
1.2582
INR
USD
63.438

Rates may not be current.