Thursday, September 29, 2005

Finland tops USA in competitiveness - usatoday/reuters

Finland tops USA in competitiveness
GENEVA (Reuters) — Nordic countries, with Finland in the lead, have some of the world's most competitive economies, despite high taxes and extensive social security systems, according to a study issued on Wednesday.
In the study, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum set the United States second after Finland in its annual competitiveness ranking but recorded growing business concern over the Bush administration's handling of the nation's finances.
Apart from Finland, four other Nordic nations — No. 3 Sweden, No. 4 Denmark, No. 7 Iceland and No. 9 Norway — were among the top 10 in the table issued with the Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2005. The others in the top 10 were No. 5 Taiwan, No. 6 Singapore, No. 8 Switzerland, and No. 10 Australia, up from No. 14 last year.
The study, based on economic data and business opinion surveys in 117 countries, said the north European nations "are challenging the conventional wisdom that high taxes and large safety nets undermine competitiveness."
The Forum is organizer of the annual gathering of global business and political leaders in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.
Finland, the USA and Sweden also occupied the top three places in the table last year, but the report indicated that the USA could have emerged on top but for worries about current policies and attitudes in Washington.
The U.S. ranked 47th out of the 117 countries studied on the health of its economy, echoing, the Forum said, growing international concern about economic imbalances, "especially as regards public finances."
Dropping down the list were Japan, from ninth to 12th, and Hong Kong, at 28th from 21st in 2004 — the latter because of "a tangible deterioration in the quality of the institutional environment" affecting the law and property rights.


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