Britain, the 'envy of Europe', races up the competitiveness league - Business - News - The Independent

Britain, the 'envy of Europe', races up the competitiveness league

Britain has leapt up the world competitiveness league as the privatisation and deregulation of the Conservative era finally pay dividends, according to a study published today.

In a finding that will give the last government bitter satisfaction, the annual competitiveness rankings published by the World Economic Forum show that the UK rose from 15th to 7th place in 1996, one of the biggest advances. Britain's place in the world rankings was one of the political footballs of the election campaign.

According to Fredrick Hu of the WEF, which organises the meeting of world political and business leaders in Davos each year: "The UK has become the envy of continental Europe."

He added: "What we see in the UK is an economy reborn out of sweeping privatisation, deregulation and other structural reforms, an economy that is now well poised to compete in the global economy."

But the annual review strikes a note of caution about growing income inequality, which has increased by more in the UK than most other countries. It notes that business executives in 49 out of the 53 countries covered judged that inequality had risen, but in general the high-ranking countries had suffered the smallest perceived increases.

The rankings are based on a mix of economic indicators such as tax rates and foreign investment, the quality of the infrastructure signalled by measures such as road density and the number of internet connections, and the results of a survey of business executives. The UK's advance reflects the importance the rankings place on factors like low tax rates and deregulation.

The report comments that Britain "has distinguished itself from the rest of Europe by retooling its social welfare state. It has slashed its top marginal tax rates and increased substantially its labour market flexibility."

Other big European climbers in the latest year are Ireland and the Netherlands. But the big European economies are languishing, with France unchanged at number 23, Germany down from 22nd to 25th, and Italy falling from 39th to 41st.

According to the WEF: "None of these countries has taken the painful but necessary measures to tackle their deep-rooted problems, which range from labour market rigidity to troubled fiscal policies."

At the top of the league table are two small but dynamic entrepot economies, Singapore and Hong Kong. They are followed by the US and Canada. With New Zealand at number five and the UK at number seven, the "Anglo-Saxon economies" make a strong showing, although this is perhaps not surprising given the assumptions behind the construction of the competitiveness index.

The newly industrialised Asian countries such as Taiwan and Malaysia also score high rankings. However, the report says their growth rates are slowing down as they mature.

It sees bigger potential in the big emerging markets like China and Indonesia, and to a lesser extent Brazil. China has climbed to 29th place in the 1996 competitiveness ranking from 36th in 1995, while Indonesia leapt from 30th to 15th.

At the bottom are two "faltering giants", the Ukraine and Russia. As well as a year of economic decline, they continue to suffer from high levels of corruption, unreliable enforcement of contracts and unreliable police guarantees of physical security.

But the survey results suggest that Colombia rivals Russia as the worst place in the world to do business in terms of governance. Respondents said bribery was commonplace, tax evasion rampant, organised crime widespread and the police force ineffective.

Global Competitiveness Report 1997

Competitive Ranking

1997

rank

Singapore 1 1 Egypt 28 29

Hong Kong 2 2 China 29 36

United States 3 4 Portugal 30 34

Canada 4 8 Belgium 31 25

New Zealand 5 3 Czech Rep 32 35

Switzerland 6 6 Mexico 33 33

United Kingdom 7 15 Philippines 34 31

Taiwan 8 9 Slovak Rep 35 N/A

Malaysia 9 10 Turkey 36 42

Norway 10 7 Argentina 37 37

Luxembourg 11 5 Iceland 38 27

Netherlands 12 17 Italy 39 41

Chile 13 18 Peru 40 38

Japan 14 13 Columbia 41 40

Indonesia 15 30 Brazil 42 48

Ireland 16 26 Jordan 43 28

Australia 17 12 South Africa 44 43

Thailand 18 14 India 45 45

Finland 19 16 Hungary 46 46

Denmark 20 11 Venezuela 47 47

Korea 21 20 Greece 48 39

Sweden 22 21 Vietnam 49 N/A

France 23 23 Poland 50 44

Israel 24 24 Zimbabwe 51 N/A

Germany 25 22 Ukraine 52 N/A

Spain 26 32 Russia 53 49

Austria 27 19

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Training Coordinator / Resource Planner - City, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week