Singapore remained in second position and Finland in third position, overtaking Sweden which was ranked fourth, The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 revealed.
These and other Northern and Western European countries, including the UK (8th) dominate the top ten.
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum said: “Persisting divides in competitiveness across regions and within regions, particularly in Europe, are at the origin of the turbulence we are experiencing today, and this is jeopardizing our future prosperity.”
He also urged governments “to act decisively by adopting long-term measures to enhance competitiveness and return the world to a sustainable growth path”.
Several Asian economies performed strongly, with Hong Kong and Japan ranked ninth and tenth respectively, while in the Middle East and North Africa, Qatar, in 11th position leads the region.
Elsewhere in that region, Saudi Arabia remained among the top 20, ranked eighteenth, and the United Arab Emirates (24th) improved its performance.
In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa (52nd) and Mauritius (54th) feature in the top half of the rankings. However, the report states that most countries in the region “continue to require efforts across the board to improve their competitiveness”.
The large emerging market economies (BRICS) displayed different performances. Despite a slight decline in the rankings of three places, China (29th) continues to lead the group. Of the others, only Brazil (48th) moves up this year, with South Africa (52nd), India (59th) and Russia (67th) experiencing small declines in rankings.
Despite growing its overall competitiveness score, the United States continued its decline for the fourth year in a row, falling two more places to seventh position.
The report argued that in addition to the burgeoning macroeconomic vulnerabilities, some aspects of the country’s institutional environment continue to raise concern among business leaders, particularly the low public trust in politicians and a perceived lack of government efficiency.
“On a more positive note, the country still remains a global innovation powerhouse and its markets work efficiently”, the report added.
While Switzerland and countries in Northern Europe had been consolidating their strong competitiveness positions since the financial and economic downturn in 2008, countries in Southern Europe such as Portugal (49th), Spain (36th), Italy (42nd) and particularly Greece (96th) continued to suffer from competitiveness weaknesses.
Global competitiveness index – top ten in 2012 (11)
- 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