Geneva: The US on Wednesday regained its first place in an annual survey of competitive economies compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which highlighted the country’s private enterprise and the sheer scale of its economy.
According to the survey, South Korea and Hong Kong stood just outside the top 10, while China ranked 34th and India was 48th. India’s business sophistication and potential for innovation were well marked, but it suffered from the 125th worst government deficit in the 131-nation survey, the WEF survey said.
China’s government-managed macroeconomic stability and huge market size, which offers Chinese companies major opportunities for economies of scale, were praised, in contrast to its “weak” financial markets, higher education institutions and companies.
Switzerland was second in the ranking, ahead of a brace of Nordic countries in the top six, as well as Germany (fifth), Singapore (seventh), Japan (eighth), Britain (ninth), and the Netherlands (10th).
Switzerland, which had been ranked first last year by the elite think tank, was praised in the WEF’s report for its“sophisticated business culture,” the quality of its public institutions and capacityfor innovation.
Nordic nations Denmark, Sweden and Finland outperformed the top two with their macroeconomic environment, budget surpluses and low levels of public debt, according to the WEF.
The index combines a survey of the opinions of 11,000 corporate executives, along with the business-oriented club’s own assessment.
Many shifts were due to the method of measurement compared with the WEF’s index last year, when the US was downgraded from first tosixth place due to growing concern about the country’s finances. Despite the renewed top ranking for the US, the WEF said the financial problems remained.
The WEF criticized the US institutional environment and macroeconomic imbalances.
Xavier Sala-i-Martin, co-author of the report, warned that those weaknesses “continue to present a risk to the country’s overall competitiveness potential and to the global economy as a whole.”
Estonia, ranked 27th, was rated as the most competitive of the 12 nations that joined the European Union (EU)in 2004.
The survey said the efficiency of Estonian government, management of public finances and thrust for new technologies outshone many established EU members, and stood in stark contrast with fellow recent EU member Poland.
The former Communist bloc country, which ranked 51st, suffered from weak and deteriorating public finances, “poor marks” for its institutional environment and “low trust” in the country’s politicians, according to the report.
The WEF’s assessment has proved controversial, partly because of its emphasis on business opinion and for repeated changes in its method.