Switzerland reigns supreme as the world’s most economically competitive country – taking the annual title for the fourth time in a row.
The top 10 revealed a sharp divide in the world economy, with six European heavyweights dominating the table.
For the Asia Pacific, the rising star is Singapore, which held on to second place for a second year, while Hong Kong and Japan took ninth and 10th places.
The only other non-European nation in the top 10 was the USA, in seventh place.
Prosperity at risk
The table, listing more than 100 countries, is an annual assessment from the World Economic Forum, a group of leading politicians, business leaders and economists.
The forum defines competitiveness as institutions, rules and other factors that contribute to a nation’s GDP, while maintaining social and environmental sustainability.
WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab said: “The world’s future prosperity is at risk because of divides in competiveness across and inside regions, particularly in Europe.
“Governments need to look to the long-term to smooth these divides, increase competitiveness and put the world on track for economic growth.”
Economies round the world
Outside the top 10, other well-performing economies include Qatar, which took 11th place and headed the Middle East and North Africa region. Saudi Arabia grabbed 18th place and the United Arab Emirates moved up to 24.
In Sub-Sahara Africa, South Africa was the leading nation in 52nd place, followed by Mauritius in 54th place.
The emerging BRICS economies proved to be a mixed bag. China led the pack despite falling three places to 29th. Brazil was the only riser – taking 48th place, while India (59) and Russia (67) slipped slightly in the ratings.
Global competitiveness index – Top 10 2012
(Last year’s placings in brackets)
1 (1) Switzerland
2 (2) Singapore
3 (4) Finland
4 (3) Sweden
5 (7) Netherlands
6 (6) Germany
7 (5) United States
8 (10) United Kingdom
9 (11) Hong Kong
10 (9) Japan
Source: World Economic forum
Although the US shows in the top 10, the nation’s competitiveness is continuing a four-year decline, dropping from fifth place in 2011.
The report explains an inefficient government and a lack of trust in politicians is weighing the US down in the rankings.
The WEF also notes that although Europe dominates the table, countries bordering the Mediterranean are not strong competitors on the world stage. The PIGS group all performed poorly – Portugal was 49th, Italy 42nd, Greece 96th and Spain came in highest out of the four at 36th.