GENEVA — The U.S. economy has slipped for the third year in a row, moving down a notch to fifth place in the 2011 global competitiveness rankings, behind top performers Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland, a business survey by the World Economic Forum said.
“A lack of macroeconomic stability continues to be the United States’ greatest area of weakness,” said the WEF’s “Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012,” which polled more than 14,000 business leaders worldwide in the 142 economies reviewed.
The WEF report ranks the countries based on the business leaders’ survey and 12 determinants of competitiveness that include the macro economy, goods market efficiency, innovation, business sophistication, infrastructure and technological readiness.
The survey says some aspects of the U.S.’ institutional environment “continue to raise concerns” among business leaders, particularly related to low public trust in politicians and concerns about government inefficiency. Overall, the survey reveals that while competitiveness in advanced industrial economies has stagnated over the past seven years, in many emerging markets it has improved, with 26th-ranked China (up one slot) continuing to lead the way among large emerging nations.
Xavier Salai-i-Martin, professor of economics at Columbia University and co-author of the report, said, “Amid reemerging concerns about the global economic outlook, policy makers must not lose sight of long-term competitiveness fundamentals.”
Concerning the performance of major textiles and apparel exporting nations, the WEF study shows that some besides China, such as Turkey and Pakistan, posted gains in competitiveness, while key suppliers such as India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan and Vietnam lost ground.
WEF analysts say China continues to lead among the major emerging countries “by a large margin” and notes it is one of the world’s least-indebted countries, boasts a savings rate of 53 percent of gross domestic product and runs only moderate budget deficits.
Turkey, a major exporter to the European Union and U.S. markets, moved up two places to 59th, benefiting from its reasonably developed infrastructure and intense local competition. Sri Lanka also moved up the competitiveness ladder 10 slots to 52nd.