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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.