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US back on top in World Economic Forum's competitiveness rating after 10-year hiatus

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a discussion during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in January in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States was named as having the most competitive economy in the world Tuesday, according to the World Economic Forum's annual ranking of nations. It is the first time America has been in the top spot since 2008.

What are the details?

The Global Competitiveness Report for 2018 showed that the U.S. economy is closer to the "ideal state" than any other country. On a scale from 0 to 100, America scored 85.6, followed by Singapore (83.5), Germany (82.8), Switzerland (82.6), and Japan (82.5).

Last on the list of 140 economies measured was Chad with a score of 35.5 on the scale, barely missed by Yemen (36.4) and Haiti (36.5).

The authors changed their methodologies for determining rankings this year, in order to account for what they call the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" in the current digital age.

WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab explained, "Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution has become a defining factor for competitiveness. With this report, the World Economic Forum proposes an approach to assess how well countries are performing against this new criterion," Politico reported.

"I foresee a new global divide between countries who understand innovative transformations and those that don't," Schwab added. "Only those economies that recognize the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be able to expand opportunities for their people."

Using 98 indicators and 12 pillars of competitiveness, the countries were rated on their institutions, infrastructure, adoption of information and communications technology, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, product market, labor markets, financial system, market size, business dynamism, and innovation capability.

Venezuela was ranked last in more than one category in the study, with the socialist nation being deemed the most corrupt, with the least future-prepared economy on the list. Venezuela also tied with El Salvador as having the most terrorism and crime.

Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa lagged behind with a concentration of underperforming economies — eight of the 10 least competitive countries are found there.

Anything else?

To those crediting the Trump administration's economic policies with America's re-emergence at the top spot, the managing director of the WEF says not so fast.

"While it is too early for the data to filter through in this year's report, we would expect trade tensions with China and other trading partners to have a negative impact on the U.S.' competitiveness in the future, were they to continue," Saadia Zahidi wrote, in an email to Reuters.

"Open economies are more competitive," Zahidi noted.

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