Whilst Britain is still facing off against other countries in the Paralympics, we seem to be climbing up the rankings elsewhere. In its annual Global Competitiveness Report, the Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked the UK as the eighth most competitive country in world – up a whole two positions from the previous year.
The WEF report ranks countries on a wide variety of factors, including the quality of education, infrastructure and institutions. Climbing from our 10th place position represents a significant achievement – some of the factors for which we rank highest are the quality of higher education, technological readiness, business sophistication and innovation, painting a very positive picture of our place on the international stage. In contrast our macroeconomic environment was shown to weaken – our Government’s budget balance, at -10.4% of our GDP, is ranked one of the worst around the world, with only four countries coming below ours. However this is one of few pitfalls of a generally positive picture.
Understandably the news has been well received, particularly against the grimmer general backdrop of current economic forecast. The Treasury has welcomed the statement and claims the improvement is down to its strict agenda of reforms. However this is in direct contrast to the claims of bond investors, reported in The Guardian today, who have feel that a lot of the Government’s initiatives haven’t actually been all that effective – instead they attribute the improvements in Britain’s borrowing costs to quantitative easing rather than any of the implemented austerity measures.
Our increase in ranking demonstrates why there might be increased international attention for the UK in the months to come. However the report also identifies some clear areas that need to improve if our economic position is to stabilise.