Swiss remain on top of competitiveness table
Switzerland remains the world's most competitive economy for the sixth consecutive year, says a report released on Wednesday by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum that shows the United States rising to third position just behind Singapore.
The Swiss registered "excellent results" in most areas underpinning competitiveness, said the WEF, which issues an annual ranking.
"This includes innovation, business sophistication, higher education and labour market efficiency."
But in an allusion to planned immigration restrictions, the organization noted that Swiss "businesses and research institutions may increasingly face difficulties in finding the talent they need to preserve their outstanding capacity for innovation, key to Switzerland's prosperity".
In its report the WEF highlighted progress made by the US.
"The United States improves its competitiveness position for the second consecutive year, climbing two places to third on the back of gains to its institutional framework and innovation scores," it said.
The US held the top rank seven years ago but slid to seventh amid the financial crisis.
The WEF, which organizes the annual Davos meeting of the global political and business elite, said that Singapore came in second, holding its ranking from the previous year.
Finland and Germany, which had been ranked third and fourth respectively, both dropped down one rung on the ladder.
The highest climber in the top ten was Japan, which moved to sixth place from its previous ninth.
Hong Kong and the Netherlands held their berths of seventh and eighth, while Britain gained one place, rising to ninth.
Sweden fell from sixth to tenth.
"The leading economies in the index all possess a track record in developing, accessing and utilizing available talent, as well as in making investments that boost innovation," said the WEF.
"These smart and targeted investments have been possible thanks to a coordinated approach based on strong collaboration between the public and private sectors," it added.
Below the top-rankers, the WEF underlined that a string of economic crisis casualties had gained ground, lauding their "significant strides to improve".
Portugal rose from 51st to 36th, and Greece, from 91st to 81st.
Spain remained in 35th place for the second year running.
The WEF also pointed to countries facing "major competitiveness challenges".
It cited France and Italy, unchanged at 23rd and 49th respectively, saying they "appear not to have fully engaged in this process".
"While the divide between a highly competitive North and a lagging South and East persists, a new outlook on the European competitiveness divide between countries implementing reforms and those that are not can now also be observed," the WEF said.
Examining eight of the world's largest emerging markets, the WEF said they continued to face difficulties in improving competitiveness.
Saudi Arabia fell to 24th from its previous ranking of 20th, while Turkey dropped one notch from 44th, and South Africa dipped to 56th from 53rd.
Mexico slid six places from 55th to 61st, while India dropped 11, sliding from 60th to 71st, and Nigeria was down to 127th from 120th.
The stand-out performer among emerging markets was China, which gained one place, moving to 28th.
The WEF began measuring economic competitiveness in 2004.
Its ranking is based on a raft of criteria: institutions, infrastructure and the macroeconomic environment, plus health and education, goods and labour market efficiency, financial market development, technology, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.
To check the full Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015, click here.