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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.