News / Economy

Global Competitiveness Index Reflects Improved World Economy

A Swiss flag is seen behind a sign of Swiss bank giant UBS on June 11, 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.
A Swiss flag is seen behind a sign of Swiss bank giant UBS on June 11, 2013 in Basel, Switzerland.
Lisa Schlein
For the fifth year in a row, Switzerland ranks as the most competitive country in the world. It is followed by Singapore, Finland, Germany and the United States, which this year reverses a four-year downward trend.   The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index finds three sub-Saharan African countries - Burundi, Guinea, and Chad - holding up the bottom of 148 countries surveyed.  

The study provides grounds for optimism that the global economy may finally be stabilizing following the freefall of recent years.  The Global Competitiveness Index notes some of the southern European countries, in particular Greece and Spain, are moving up in the rankings after several years of decline.

The World Economic Forum chief economist, Jennifer Blanke, says this might indicate the reform process, which has been under way for the past couple of years, is starting to bear fruit.  

She says a number of things that were of great concern a year ago have not come to pass. She notes, for example, the predicted breakup of the eurozone did not happen and the United States did not hit the debt ceiling.  

“Really, we are seeing signs of life in the global economy.  But, at the same time, things are slow.  You still see a number of European and other advanced economies struggling,” Blanke said. “You see a slowdown among the developing countries.  And so, I think our main message coming out this year is the importance of ‘You know, it is great we have got over the short-term firefighting, but now let us get back to business in terms of the sorts of reforms that are needed.’  So, loosening up labor markets, making them more effective, and things of that nature.”  

Blanke says prospects for the economy going forward are good if governments get back to the hard work of attacking some of these structural issues.

The United States, which has dropped in the WEF's rankings for the past four years, is finally making a turnaround.  This year it has moved up two places into fifth position.  The report attributes the U.S. rise in the rankings to a perceived improvement in the country’s financial markets, as well as greater confidence in its public institutions.

Blanke says the United States continues to be an innovation powerhouse and this is important in terms of getting goods to market and pushing productivity forward.

“So a lot of good things, a lot of good news for the U.S. this year.  On the other hand, the macro-economic picture continues to be worrisome-debts, deficits, unfunded liabilities," she said.  “So, these are all things we continue to be worried about going forward.”  

The report says some of the world’s largest emerging market economies must get business and government to implement long-overdue reforms.  It says China continues to lead the five so called BRICS countries in the competitiveness rankings, followed by South Africa, Brazil, India and Russia.

The picture in the Middle East is mixed.  On the one hand, Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are doing well in the rankings.  On the other hand, the report notes the high degree of uncertainty and political turbulence in the region is having a negative impact on competitiveness.  

Conflict-ridden Syria does not figure in this year’s report because researchers were unable to gather needed data.   Egypt, another country in turmoil, dropped 11 places from last year’s index, to the 118th spot.

The report says Latin America continues to suffer from low rates of productivity despite robust economic growth in previous years.  

In sub-Saharan Africa, 45th-ranked Mauritius has overtaken 53rd-ranked South Africa as the region’s most competitive economy.  The report notes only eight countries in the region feature in the top 100, which indicates great efforts need to be made to improve Africa’s competitiveness.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8905
JPY
USD
120.20
GBP
USD
0.6541
CAD
USD
1.3262
INR
USD
66.242

Rates may not be current.