The impact of recession, the near collapse of the financial system and the parlous state of the public finances have pushed the UK down the international league table for competitiveness, according to a new authoritative survey.
The World Economic Forum, the body best known for its annual high profile conference in the Swiss resort of Davos, ranks the UK just ahead of Colombia and just behind Montenegro in its ratings for macroeconomic stability.
At 71st in the world, the UK is one of the worst performing of the advanced economies – behind France (58th), Germany (30th) and Sweden (15th). However, the even more exposed US economy has slumped to 93rd, while Japan, with a debt to GDP ratio of about 180 per cent, ranks in 97th place.
Overall, the poll of international businessmen and economist that comprise the WEF's panel put the UK in 13th position, down one place on last year. Switzerland replaces the US as the most competitive place in the world. In terms of macroeconomic stability, however, Brunei tops the rankings, followed by Algeria, Kuwait and Libya, suggesting that large reserves of oil and gas are the best foundation for an economy during the current crisis.
The World Bank also released its "Doing Business 2010" survey, which concentrates on the narrower field of regulation. On this ranking the UK actually improved its competitive position, rising from 6th to 5th in the world, swapping places with Denmark, and behind Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China and the US. The most improved nation was Rwanda which scored especially well.