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Top 10 Most Business-Friendly Countries: 2017

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The world’s most competitive countries continued to elbow one another for top positions in the 2017 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook

While the leader consolidated its position, the U.S., which held the number one spot in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 rankings, dropped to its lowest position in five years in the 2017 ranking.

The overall competitiveness scoreboard is based on four factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

Among the most improved countries, the indicators that stood out were related to government and business efficiency as well as productivity, according to Arturo Bris, the center’s director. 

“These countries have maintained a business-friendly environment that encourages openness and productivity,” Bris said in a statement. “If you look at China, its improvement of seven places to 18th can be traced to its dedication to international trade. This continues to drive the economy and the improvement in government and business efficiency.” 

Not so for the countries at the bottom of the table, largely occupied by those experiencing political and economic upheaval.

“You would expect to see countries such as Ukraine (60), Brazil (61) and Venezuela (63) here because you read about their political issues in the news,” Bris said. “These issues are at the root of poor government efficiency which diminishes their place in the rankings.”

The IMD World Competitiveness Center, a research group at the Lausanne, Switzerland-based IMD business school, has published the rankings every year since 1989.

It compiles them using 260 indicators, some two-thirds of which come from hard data such as national employment and trade statistics; and a third from more than 6,250 responses to an executive opinion purvey that measures the business perception of issues such as corruption, environmental concerns and quality of life.

Following are the 10 most competitive countries, out of a total of 63, with their ranking according to the four indicators.

The courtyard of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (Photo: AP) 

10. United Arab Emirates

2016 rank: 15

Economic performance: 5

Government efficiency: 4

Business efficiency: 2

Infrastructure: 37

The Harbor in Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

9: Sweden

2016 rank: 5

Economic performance: 17

Government efficiency: 14

Business efficiency: 9

Infrastructure: 3

Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg City.

8: Luxembourg

2016 rank: 11

Economic performance: 3

Government efficiency: 15

Business efficiency: 6

Infrastructure: 22

Nyhavn in Copenhagen. 

7: Denmark

2016 rank: 6

Economic performance: 20

Government efficiency: 7

Business efficiency: 8

Infrastructure: 4

Four courts in Dublin. 

6: Ireland

2016 rank: 7

Economic performance: 4

Government efficiency: 9

Business efficiency: 3

Infrastructure: 19

A cyclist passes the Rijksmuseum in the center of Amsterdam. (Photo: AP)

5: Netherlands

2016 rank: 8

Economic performance: 9

Government efficiency: 12

Business efficiency: 4

Infrastructure: 8

American Flag Balloon (Photo: AP)

4: U.S.

2016 rank: 3

Economic performance: 1

Government efficiency: 27

Business efficiency: 14

Infrastructure: 2


Harbor in Singapore near Patterson Hill.

3: Singapore

2016 rank: 4

Economic performance: 6

Government efficiency: 3

Business efficiency: 10

Infrastructure: 7

A cable train makes its way up the Weissfluhjoch mountain in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: AP)

2: Switzerland

2016 rank: 2

Economic performance: 15

Government efficiency: 2

Business efficiency: 5

Infrastructure: 1

Hong Kong skyline

1: Hong Kong SAR

2016 rank: 1

Economic performance: 11

Government efficiency: 1

Business efficiency: 1

Infrastructure: 20

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