The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) said Brexit may have given the UK a competitive edge, creating the “sentiment of a business-friendly environment in the making”. The UK ranked 20th on the business efficiency measure, compared to 31st least year.
The world’s second largest economy, China, sits at 20th place, having slipped down by six places since last year.
The United States also lost ground, sinking from third place in 2019 to 10th place this year.
In the past year, China and the US have been locked in an intense trade war, only signing a phase one pact in January.
But that has since been on rocky ground, while the two economies try to wrestle with the effects that COVID lockdowns are having on productivity.
Brexit may have brought the UK up in the rankings.
China’s Premier Xi Jinping.
The original agreement included a main commitment that China would buy $200billion of US goods and services, a target that drew scepticism even at the time.
President Trump’s calling card in international trade discussions seems to involve threatening that deal.
The UAE fell from fifth to ninth place, reflecting the struggles the region has faced with tanking oil prices over the past year.
Crude oil prices dipped below zero for the first time in history in April, reflecting the evaporation in demand as global economies were forced to shutter factories, and the aviation industry ground to a halt.
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US President Donald Trump.
At the time, oil producers were paying more to store oil, than the cost of buying it.
Singapore hit the top spot for the second year running, with Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Hong Kong occupying second to fifth places.
Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center and professor of finance, said: “The benefit of small economies in the current crisis comes from their ability to fight a pandemic and from their economic competitiveness.
“In part these may be fed by the fact it is easy to find social consensus.”
The US slipped in the rankings this year.
The centre said that factors behind Singapore’s success are its strong economic performance, which stems from robust international trade and investment, employment and labor market measures.
Denmark can credit a strong economy, labor market, and health and education systems. In addition, the country performs very well in international investment and productivity, and topped Europe in business efficiency.
Switzerland has been gradually edging towards a podium position, from fifth to fourth and now third in 2020.
Robust international trade fuels its strong economic performance, whilst its scientific infrastructure and health and education systems show steadfast displays.
Coronavirus responses are likely to distinguish countries from each other in future rankings.
Among the least competitive countries, according to the rankings, are Venezuela, Argentina and Mongolia.
This year, new criteria were added to reflect the importance of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The criteria provide a perception of where the economy stands with respect to different sustainable goals that need to be satisfied in 10 years, such as education and the environment, inclusion and empowerment, ageing and health.
- Hong Kong