Nordic countries top competitiveness ranking

Posted in Other , Europe | 29-Sep-05 | Author: Tom Wright| Source: International Herald Tribune

Augusto Lopez-Claros, author of the Global Competitiveness Report.
GENEVA Nordic countries are more likely than those of any other region to see strong economic growth, the World Economic Forum concluded in a study released Wednesday.

Finland ended up in first place in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index, which ranks 117 countries. Four other Nordic countries made the top 10.

It was the second consecutive year that Finland topped the list. Also for the second time, the United States, the world's largest economy, was ranked second.

"They have got themselves in a virtuous cycle," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, author of the report. Businesses trust government, tax returns are high and this can be invested back into societies, he said, adding that the model can be replicated, as shown by the strides Chile has made in recent years. "I don't think it's a cultural trait of the Nordics," he said. "It can be done."

The study assigned scores to nations by looking at factors like government economic policy, the strength of local institutions and the degree to which technology has been used to bolster growth.

The United States is still at the cutting edge of technology, the report said, citing its "pipeline of innovation second to none in the world." But a growing budget deficit and other macroeconomic concerns stopped it from reaching the top spot, according to the report.

The United States was followed by Sweden, Denmark, Taiwan and Singapore, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Australia.

Poland ranked 51st, the lowest rank in the index for a member of the European Union. Britain was in 13th place, Germany 15th, France 30th and Italy 47th.

The World Economic Forum report said rapid growth in China and India, which placed 49th and 50th, respectively, could be threatened in the long term by factors like poor education systems and low levels of technology use. The organization said these factors were "likely to slow down their ascension to the top tier of the most competitive economies in the world."

Despite having pockets of innovation and high growth rates, China and India lagged in the index because the two countries had "serious problems" with corruption, bureaucracy and education, said Margareta Drzeniek, a senior economist at the World Economic Forum.

African and Latin American nations filled most of the bottom spots, with Chad in last place. But Chile, which outscored many EU countries on government transparency, bucked the trend, taking the 23rd spot.