Germany has been named the country with the best "brand image" according to a new study of 50 countries.
It has leapfrogged the USA, which previously held the title.
The Nation Brands Index, conducted in association with independent policy advisor Simon Anholt, conducts what it says is the world's most comprehensive global nation branding survey, combining six dimensions: governance, exports, people, culture & heritage, tourism, investment and immigration.
It considers factors such as how people perceive a country's quality of life, business environment, tolerance and the public image of a country's products and services.
The survey measured "the power and quality of each country's 'brand image", according to DW.com.
Speaking to The Independent, Anholt said: "There are over 50 statements about each of the 50 countries in the index, reflecting views on their landscape, people, tourist appeal, economy, government, educational system, products, culture, and much else besides. Each year since 2005, we’ve sent this questionnaire to around 20,000 people in 20 countries, chosen using UN statistics to select a typical sample of the general population. It’s used by more than 40 governments who want to keep track of their country’s international standing."
Germany moved up to the top spot having been second in 2016, while the US dropped all the way from first to sixth. This was attributed in part to the "Trump effect" - the notion that Donald Trump's policies and personality may have harmed America's image abroad. The USA slipped from 19 to 23 for "governance" - something which the survey said was directly "indicative" of the Trump effect.
Germany's Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, expressed delight with the result, saying: "Germany's image no longer rests on our economic strength. People think we're capable of much in the world."
On the USA's decline, Anholt told The Independent, "It turns out that we don’t mainly admire other countries for being successful or rich or powerful: we mainly admire the countries that contribute the most to the world we live in. This is why I launched the Good Country Index.
"One of the effects of President Trump’s often-repeated America First credo, and the policies that have stemmed from it, is to send a strong signal that the US no longer wants to be a Good Country, so it’s not surprising that this has damaged the country’s standing. This is bad news for the US if it persists, since a positive national reputation is itself one of the key drivers of trade, tourism, foreign investment and much else besides. Trump’s efforts to boost US trade by focusing on US needs could, paradoxically, have exactly the opposite effect, by reducing the ‘brand value’ of the country and consequently everything it sells and does."
The United Kingdom remained at third in the Nation Brands Index, despite fears over its reputation following the Brexit referendum result, while Italy dropped from sixth to seventh and France rose from fifth to second. Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden all remained in their 2016 places at fourth, eight, ninth and tenth respectively.
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