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LAUSANNE, Switzerland: May 31, 2017. The United States is no longer one of the top three competitive countries in the world according to a new 63-country index produced by the IMD Business School.

World Competitiveness rankingHong Kong remains the most competitive economy followed by Switzerland and Singapore with the U.S. now in fourth place, its lowest position in five years and down from third place last year. The Netherlands completes the top five rankings, up from eighth position last year.

Ireland follows in sixth place, up one position, followed by Denmark, Luxembourg – up three places – Sweden and the UAE that gained five places since the previous index to round out the top 10.

Finland also became more competitive in the last 12 months moving from 20th to 15th place, as Mainland China gained seven places to replace the UK in 18th position as that country's pre-Brexit economy drops to 19th place. Rounding out the list of the 32 most competitive nations according to the IMD is Kazakhstan that jumped 15 places from 47th last year.

The IMD World Competitiveness Center has published the rankings every year since 1989 from 260 indicators most of which are based on national employment and trade statistics and remainder from 6,250 survey responses that measured the business perception of issues such as corruption, environmental concerns and quality of life.

Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, said the indicators that stood out among the most improved countries are related to government and business efficiency as well as productivity.

"These countries have maintained a business-friendly environment that encourages openness and productivity," he said. "If you look at China, its improvement of seven places to 18th can be traced to its dedication to international trade. This continues to drive the economy and the improvement in government and business efficiency."

Commenting on those countries at the bottom of the table he added: "You would expect to see countries such as Ukraine (60), Brazil (61) and Venezuela (63) here because you read about their political issues in the news. These issues are at the root of poor government efficiency which diminishes their place in the rankings."

The IMD has also published for the first time a 'Digital Competitiveness Ranking' to measure a country's ability to adopt and explore digital technologies than can transform government practices, business models and society in general.

Top of the new index is Singapore followed by Sweden, the U.S. Finland and Denmark. "There is no doubt that supportive and inclusive government institutions help technological innovation," said Bris.

"The U.S. has a history of government support for technological innovation. This shows that in digitally competitive countries, the government must facilitate the adoption of new technologies," he added in an apparent contradiction of Donald Trump's announcement supporting America's fossil fuel industry and rejection of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Technology pioneer Elon Musk responded by announcing his departure from two presidential advisory councils saying: "Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world."


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