A key message of the Global Competitive Index 4.0 is that there are no winners and losers - but rather, in the face of new technological challenges, countries can learn from each other. It also pointed out that the United States is far behind most advanced economies in health, with life expectancy six years behind competitors Singapore and Japan.
In last year's report Greece had appeared to be in 87th position among 135 countries, but the WEF has since updated its methodology, applying it in this year's report and adjusting last year's.
In a report that President Donald Trump is likely to see as validating his "Make America Great Again" drive, the USA placed ahead of Singapore and Germany in the 140-nation table. With three countries ahead of Taiwan being the Western nations Germany, the United States and Switzerland, Taiwan took the top spot in Asia.
In its closely-watched annual Global Competitiveness Report, the WEF said the U.S.is the country closest to the "frontier of competitiveness", an indicator that ranks competitive productivity using a scale from zero to 100.
USA companies scored highly for the speed with which they embrace change, but the nation fared poorly on metrics such as health and security. China, one of the chief targets of USA criticism over trade, was 28th.
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Among countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore remains the most competitive, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, and the Philippines.
"Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution has become a defining factor for competitiveness". Finally, under innovation capability the country ranked 83rd out of 140 countries with a score of 38 out of a 100.
"I foresee a new global divide between countries who understand innovative transformations and those that don't", said Schwab..
A new methodology, covering 98 indicators from infrastructure to innovation, was introduced to shed light on the effect on productivity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is characterised by a range of new technologies impacting disciplines, economies and industries.
The report emphasizes the importance of trade openness for global competitiveness, saying that the "data suggests that global economic health would be positively impacted by a return to greater openness and integration" whilst also cautioning that new policies are needed for those adversely affected by globalization. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, there is a need to rethink the drivers of competitiveness and therefore of long-term growth.