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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9098
    JPY
    USD
    105.75
    GBP
    USD
    0.7631
    CAD
    USD
    1.3189
    INR
    USD
    67.209

    Rates may not be current.