World Economic Forum: UK moves up global economic list

Shanghai skyline China moves up one place in the rankings to 28th

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The UK has edged up the global rankings in a major annual survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Its Global Competitiveness Report sees the UK rise one spot to ninth on the list, while Switzerland and Singapore retain first and second place.

The US improved its competitiveness position for the second consecutive year, climbing two places to third.

But the WEF warns that the global economy's health is at risk, despite years of monetary stimulus and reforms.

Each year, the WEF, best known for its annual Davos economic meeting, benchmarks countries against 12 factors, including infrastructure, education and training, labour market efficiency, technological readiness and innovation.

The aim is to produce a comparative picture of what is driving competitiveness, productivity, and prosperity in 144 countries.

The UK wins plaudits for adopting technology to enhance productivity, and for its general business environment.

Finland (4th) and Germany (5th) both drop one place.

Among emerging market economies, Saudi Arabia (24th), Turkey (45th), South Africa (56th), Brazil (57th), and India (71st) all fell in the rankings. But China (28th) rose one position.

The report said that that top-ranked countries had common factors driving competitiveness.

"The leading economies in the index all possess a track record in developing, accessing and utilising available talent, as well as in making investments that boost innovation.

"These smart and targeted investments have been possible thanks to a co-ordinated approach based on strong collaboration between the public and private sectors," the report said.

Risks

In Europe, the report warns of a widening split between countries in the South and North.

"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.

The report also sounds a warning that the health of the global economy is at risk, despite years of what the WEF calls "bold monetary policy".

It saw "uneven implementation of structural reforms across different regions and levels of development as the biggest challenge to sustaining global growth".

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, added: "The strained global geopolitical situation, the rise of income inequality, and the potential tightening of the financial conditions could put the still tentative recovery at risk and call for structural reforms to ensure more sustainable and inclusive growth."

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