Finance Finance News Australia fails to make world’s top-20 economies: report
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Australia fails to make world’s top-20 economies: report

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Australia's economy ranked behind even New Zealand's. Photo: Getty
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Australia has been ranked the 21st-most competitive economy in the world, according to the Geneva-based World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual rankings released on Wednesday.

Ranking countries on competitiveness and a survey of business leaders, the WEF found Australia was behind smaller economies such as New Zealand (13th),  Taiwan (15th), United Arab Emirates (17th) Luxembourg (19th) and Belgium (20th).

Switzerland was judged the world’s most competitive economy for a ninth straight year,

Since suffering a rare blip in 2008, when it was nudged into second place by the United States, the Swiss economy has maintained an unshakeable grip on the top spot .

WEF economist Thierry Geiger said Switzerland had a virtuous circle of infrastructure, institutions and education, but at the heart of its success was the way it created and used talent.

“That is really the secret of Switzerland, this ability to innovate, supported by a whole range of enabling factors,” he said.

However, there are danger signs.

After almost a decade at the top, Switzerland is at risk from complacency and populism.

The ageing population could undermine the innovation miracle by shutting the door to foreign talent.

“We see a proliferation of such referendums on everything, some of them are kind of dangerous, they could really endanger and jeopardise Switzerland’s prosperity,” Geiger said.

The World Economic Forum, the same organisation that runs the Davos meeting of global powerbrokers each January, bases its rankings on a dozen drivers of competitiveness and a survey of business leaders.

Besides Switzerland, the top 10 remained the same as a year ago, although there was some shuffling of the order.

The United States climbed over Singapore into second place, and Hong Kong jumped three places to sixth, leapfrogging Japan in ninth spot

Britain slipped one place to eighth. It has not yet dropped in the rankings because of its Brexit negotiations with the European Union but it is expected to do so, the WEF said.

The wooden spoon went to Yemen, a poor country further devastated by civil war, economic collapse, cholera and near-famine conditions, which was in 137th place.

THE FULL LIST

1. Switzerland 2. United States 3. Singapore 4. Netherlands 5. Germany 6. Hong Kong 7. Sweden 8. United Kingdom 9. Japan 10. Finland 11. Norway 12. Denmark 13. New Zealand 14. Canada 15. Taiwan 16. Israel 17. United Arab Emirates 18. Austria 19. Luxembourg 20. Belgium 21. Australia 22. France 23. Malaysia 24. Ireland 25. Qatar 26. South Korea 27. China 28. Iceland 29. Estonia 30. Saudi Arabia