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The World Economic Forum named Switzerland the most competitive nation for an eighth straight year as it warned less open trade was threatening economic growth globally.
Switzerland was ahead of Singapore and the U.S. in the annual rankings of 138 countries, with Netherlands overtaking Germany to take the fourth spot.
The Geneva-based organization used the report to highlight its concern about a gradual decline in openness. It blamed this on rising non-tariff barriers and more burdensome rules governing foreign investment and customs, and said it’s threatening to hurt the world economy.
“Declining openness in the global economy is harming competitiveness and making it harder for leaders to drive sustainable, inclusive growth,” said Klaus Schwab, founder of the forum.
Elsewhere in the top 10, the U.K. climbed three places to seventh, although the forum said it had collected the data before June’s Brexit vote. Still, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said the report shows “our ability to sharpen our edge” and he pledged to “build on that progress, as we demonstrate to the world that Britain continues to be highly competitive and open for business.”
Amid ongoing calls from central banks that they can’t do all the economic heavy lifting and governments must help propel growth, the WTO added its voice to the mix. It said that monetary-policy interventions in economies with comparatively low competitiveness scores failed to generate the same effect as those in economies with high scores. This suggests that “strong underlying competitiveness is a key requirement for successful monetary stimulus,” the WTO said.
By Simon Kennedy (Bloomberg)