UK falls in league table of world competitiveness

THE UNITED KINGDOM has dropped down the world competitiveness league table because of the strong pound, new employment regulations and its weakness in science and technology.

The UK has fallen from fourth to eighth place, more than reversing the previous year's gains, according to the annual competitiveness rankings published by the World Economic Forum.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Harvard University and one of the authors of the report, said: "The UK is still one of the more competitive economies in the world, but it is a meaningful drop."

Despite the financial crisis that started in mid-1997, three of the top four most competitive countries are Asian, with Singapore in first place and Hong Kong and Taiwan third and fourth. The US has edged up to second place in this year's report.

The crisis has sorted the sheep from the goats among the tiger economies. Malaysia's ranking is nearly unchanged at number 16, while Korea, Thailand and Indonesia have fallen to 22nd, 30th and 37th respectively. Indonesia has plummeted 22 places.

At the bottom of the league languish the same four countries as last year: Russia, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and Colombia. All are characterised in their different ways by the absence of any rule of law, unreliable property rights and poor infrastructure. The high-profile annual report puts greater emphasis than before on microeconomic foundations for long- term success, especially a country's capacity to innovate.

Microeconomic rankings fed into the overall league table include measures of the degree of competition and vitality of anti-trust policies, the amount of red tape, technological infrastructure and communications costs and the quality of education.

The report finds that the UK is falling behind in its technological capability, on top of a long-standing weakness in scientific education.

It also raises concerns about the increase in red tape affecting business and relatively weak competition. The strength of the pound also contributed to the deterioration in the UK's performance.

The report predicts the euro's weakness will boost the position of continental economies in future years - most of them moved very little in the rankings between 1998 and 1999.

Professor Sachs said: "The depreciation of the euro vis a vis the US dollar will prove a major plus for the European economies in terms of employment and growth, even though it is viewed with some concern now."

Outlook, above

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral