Content - Switzerland most competitive nation for ninth year

  • September 30, 2017

Switzerland most competitive nation for ninth year

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – Switzerland has been selected as the most competitive economy for the ninth consecutive year, narrowly ahead of the United States and Singapore. Other G20 economies in the top 10 of the latest Global Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum based in Davos are Germany (5), the United Kingdom (8) and Japan (9). Japan went down one place. China is the highest ranking among the BRICS group of large emerging markets, moving up one rank to 27. The survey assesses such factors as public sector performance, macroeconomic environment, quality of education and infrastructure in 137 countries and territories.

Swiss capital Bern

Hong Kong as big winner

With Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany remaining stable on first, fourth and fifth spots respectively, the only changes in the top five apply to the United States and Singapore, which swap second and third positions. Elsewhere in the top 10 the big winner is Hong Kong, which jumps three places to sixth, edging out Sweden (7), UK (8) and Japan (9), all of which decline one place.  

The decline of Japan’s competitiveness was partly attributed to massive government debt, lingering deflation and the inflexible labor market. At the same time, the ranking report mentioned the high quality of infrastructure and the educational level of the workforce as positive factors. Some advanced economies including Japan would be showing signs of declining productivity, stressing a need for technological innovation, the report warned.

North-south divide in Europe

In Europe, the region’s third-largest economy, France, is edged out one position to 22. Elsewhere, there seems little sign of improvement in addressing the region’s north-south divide with little change in the rankings of Spain (34), Italy (43), or Greece (87). Portugal does excel though, climbing four places to 42, ahead of Italy. With Finland holding stable in 10th position, the other big winner in the top 20 is Israel, which climbs eight places to 16.  

North America remains one of the most competitive regions in the world, leading in innovation, business sophistication and technological readiness, and ranking close to the top in the other pillars of competitiveness. The United States rise to number 2 and Canada also improves one position to 14. Russia improves five positions, moving to 38. Improvements in basic requirements and innovation drive the increase.  

From capitalism to talentism

One key finding is that competitiveness is enhanced, not weakened, by combining degrees of flexibility within the labor force with adequate protection of workers’ rights. With vast numbers of jobs set to be disrupted as a result of automation and robotization, creating conditions that can withstand economic shock and support workers through transition periods will be vital.  

“Global competitiveness will be more and more defined by the innovative capacity of a country. Talents will become increasingly more important than capital and therefore the world is moving from the age of capitalism into the age of talentism. Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum. 

The key findings of the Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018 can be found here.


Text: SCCIJ with material of WEF; Table: WEF; Photo: Swiss capital Bern (flickr/Martin Abegglen CC BY-SA 2.0)

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