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US Falls, China Rises in Global Competitiveness Rankings

The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report finds the United States has fallen to fourth position behind top-ranked Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore in its competitiveness rankings of 139 countries. The report notes China has moved up in the rankings and sub-Saharan African countries continue to hold the bottom.

The report finds the recent economic crisis is having an impact on its competitiveness rankings. It notes the United States is continuing its decline. After being toppled from first to second position last year, it now has fallen two more places to fourth position.

Despite this, co-author of the Global Competitiveness Report, Thierry Geiger, tells VOA the United States is still among the most competitive economies in the world. And this he says is because the United States remains strong in areas, such as innovation, business sophistication, education and infrastructure.

"Now we see a deterioration in the situation of some macro-economic indicators, including obviously the government budget," said Geiger. "The budget deficit is deepening, the debt level is also rising. The financial market development category is one of the twelve pillars we capture. So, the situation there in the financial market and banking sector is still going down. The assessment is still deteriorating from last year."

The report finds the Nordic countries continue to be well positioned in the rankings, with Sweden, Finland and Denmark among the top 10. It says Germany leads the Euro-zone countries, moving up two places to fifth position. And, the United Kingdom, it says, has moved back up to 12th position after falling in the rankings over recent years.

The report notes China is becoming more competitive. Geiger says the country is making improvements in its financial and banking sectors, areas where it has been historically weak. He says this and other factors have boosted China from 29th to 27th place.

"This is quite remarkable given the level of development of China now," added Geiger. "It is still an emerging economy and now really it is almost at the level of many advanced economies. And, they are actually widening the gap with the other BRICs; namely, India, Russia, and Brazil, which are much lower in the rankings."

The report focuses on, what it calls, two interesting regional trends. It cites the strong, dynamic performances of Asian countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

The report notes several countries from the Middle East and North Africa region occupy the upper half of the rankings. It says most of the Gulf States are becoming more competitive because they are diversifying away from oil into other areas of economic pursuit.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 54th and 55th placed South Africa and Mauritius feature in the top half of the rankings. They are followed by Namibia, Botswana and Rwanda, who figure among the best performing countries in the lower half of the rankings.

But the report says Chad, Burundi and Malawi continue to be among the worst performing countries.

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