UK eighth most competitive in global survey

Ben Southwood
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THE UK jumped two places in this year’s global competitiveness report, released yesterday by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Britain placed eighth in the world for competitiveness, leapfrogging Denmark and Japan, based on marginal improvements across the board – except its macroeconomy.

The macroeconomic environment worsened by 0.5 points according to WEF’s index, as the UK slipped back into recession, with the world’s 137th best – fifth worst – current budgetary situation.

One hundred and twelve countries had a better gross national savings; 64 had better inflation, and 126 had a better central government debt situation, according to the WEF.

However, the Treasury jumped on the results as evidence its policies were working. “We welcome the WEF’s assessment,” a spokesperson said, “The UK is becoming more competitive thanks to this government’s reforms: creating a more flexible and educated workforce; simplifying our tax system and reducing the main rate of corporation tax as well as scrapping burdensome regulation and simplifying planning rules.”

However, although the UK lost six places in the total tax ranking, it gained 17 when considering the extent and effect of taxation instead.

And while Britain dropped 13 places when ranking how quickly one can start a business, the UK has got no worse – it’s just that other countries have cut more red tape.

The UK also improved 11 places in terms of the burden of government regulation – but it remained only 72nd best in the world.

The real standout positive factors were in education, skills and training. The UK was ranked first in the world for the quality of its management schools, up from second last year. Similarly, Britain remained second in university-industry research and development collaboration, and held third place in the quality of its scientific research institutions.