UK Economic Competitiveness Strongest for a Decade After Brexit Vote

project fear
Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty

The British economy is the strongest it has been in more than a decade as the nation prepares to leave the European Union (EU), an influential index reports.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the overall “competitiveness” score of the UK economy increased from 5.49 to 5.50 out of 7, reaching the highest level since the index was launched in 2007.

A spokesman for the Swiss think tank told The Times that the improvement suggests the Brexit vote has had no material negative impact on the UK’s competitiveness so far.

The UK came eighth out of 137 economies this year, beating Finland and Japan. It did slip one place from last year overall, but only because Hong Kong jumped three places due to rapid improvements in infrastructure, labour markets, and innovation.

Despite the UK economy actually improving since the Brexit vote, and having defied many ‘Project Fear’ predictions so far, some of the mainstream press framed the report a showing the negative effects of Brexit.

“Brexit: UK economy falls down global competitiveness rankings,” was the headline in the Independent. “Brexit will undermine UK competitiveness, World Economic Forum,” said the Belfast Telegraph.

The index is based on a range of factors that influence the competitiveness of an economy compared to other nations, including the quality of its institutions, infrastructure, innovation, and efficiency of markets and training.

The UK scores best on technological readiness, in which it gained the fourth highest score globally, while it was sixth in labour market efficiency and seventh in the sophistication of its businesses.

“Currently the country performs very well on technological readiness and the sophistication of its business sector (4th and 7th overall),” the report read.

“Its macroeconomic environment remains challenging (68th) and could become an important constraint in the future as the timeline for a reduction of the fiscal deficit is repeatedly pushed back.”

The Treasury welcomed the findings, telling The Times: “This report confirms the UK as one of the best places in the world to do business, with a low corporate tax rate, a robust labour market and a thriving technology sector.

“But we are not complacent, which is why we are building on this strength by investing £23 billion in infrastructure, technology and skills to deliver a more productive economy and higher living standards for the county.”

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