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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.