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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.