The United States no longer has the world's most competitive economy.

Singapore overtook the US in the annual IMD World Competitiveness Ranking. The list incorporates 235 data points, including GDP, government spending, corruption level, and unemployment.

Singapore also tied with Paris and Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city earlier this year, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living report. The country has among the world's lowest corporate tax rates at 17%.

What do we mean by ‘competitiveness’?

What is economic competitiveness? The World Economic Forum, which has been measuring countries' competitiveness since 1979, defines it as: “the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country." Other definitions exist, but all generally include the word “productivity”.


The Global Competitiveness Report is a tool to help governments, the private sector, and civil society work together to boost productivity and generate prosperity. Comparative analysis between countries allows leaders to gauge areas that need strengthening and build a coordinated response. It also helps identify best practices around the world.

The Global Competitive Index forms the basis of the report. It measures performance according to 114 indicators that influence a nation’s productivity. The latest edition covered 141 economies, accounting for over 98% of the world’s GDP.

Countries’ scores are based primarily on quantitative findings from internationally recognized agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Health Organization, with the addition of qualitative assessments from economic and social specialists and senior corporate executives.

The US moved down the list due to higher fuel prices, weakening exports, and fluctuations in the value of a dollar, the IMD World Competitiveness Center stated in a release.

Singapore, along with other Pacific Asian countries, moved up the ranking due to advanced technological infrastructure and policies that support businesses.

Here are the 25 countries with the most competitive economies, ranked:

25. Thailand has moved 5 spots up the ranking since 2018.

Thailand's jump is driven by an increase in foreign direct investments and productivity, according to the report.

24. Israel ranked at number 21 in 2018.

Israel fell in the ranking due to a negative performance across different government efficiency indicators, such as its budget deficit.

23. The UK dropped three spots since ranking number 20 last year.

The UK's Brexit woes was among the causes of its slide in the rankings.

22. Malaysia kept the same ranking as last year.

Image: Zainal Abd Halim/Reuters

21. New Zealand moved up two spots since ranking at 23 last year.

20. Iceland moved up 4 spots in the ranking since 2018.

19. Austria moved down one spot since taking the number 18 ranking last year.

Image: Flickr/Kosala Bandara

18. Australia moved up one spot since ranking number 19 last year.

Image: Jason Reed/Reuters

17. Germany had the number 15 ranking in 2018.

Image: Associated Press

16. Taiwan moved up one spot in the ranking since last year.

15. Finland moved up one spot since 2018.

Finland has one of the best infrastructure among all the economies ranked.

14. China held the number 13 ranking last year.

China's domestic economy has one of the best economic performances.

13. Canada moved down 3 spots in the ranking since last year.

Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Image: Reuters

12. Luxembourg moved down one spot in the ranking since 2018.

Image: Wikimedia

Luxembourg still scores high in macroeconomic performance.

11. Norway moved down 3 spots from its number 8 ranking last year.

The Nordics region failed to make significant progress this year in terms of economic competitiveness, according to the data.

10. Qatar moved up 4 spots since last year.

Image: Reuters

Qatar entered the top 10 for the first time since 2013.

9. Sweden kept the same rank as last year.

Sweden ranks high in delivering technological and human resources to businesses.

8. Denmark moved down 2 spots from the number 6 ranking last year.

Image: Reuters

Despite its fall, Denmark scored high in infrastructure, according to the data.

7. Ireland moved up 5 spots since 2018.

Ireland's strengthened economy and investment in business explained why it ranked so high.

6. The Netherlands moved down 2 spots this year.

The Netherlands ranked highly in how innovative and profitable its businesses are.

5. The United Arab Emirates moved up 2 spots from number 7 last year.

Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, is seen in a general view of Dubai
Image: Thomson Reuters

The UAE appeared in the top five for the first time due to increased productivity and entrepreneurship.

4. Switzerland moved up a spot in the ranking since last year.

A Swiss flag is pictured on the Federal Palace in Bern
Image: Reuters

Switzerland also ranked highly for the quality of life, according to IMD World Competitiveness Center.

3. The US moved to the number 3 after having the most competitive economy last year.

Image: AP Images

Higher fuel prices and fluctuations in the value of a dollar led to the drop in rankings for the US.

2. Hong Kong also held the second spot on the list last year.

Policies designed to help businesses helped Hong Kong remain in the top 3.

1. Singapore took the top spot after landing in third place last year.

Image: Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Singapore's advanced technological infrastructure and availability of skilled labor prompted its rise.