The USA has dropped from being the most globally competitive country in the world to being the sixth in a report by the World Economic Forum released today.

In a statement by the forum the reasons for the decline of the USA position were examined thus: "Its overall competitiveness is threatened by large macroeconomic imbalances, particularly rising levels of public indebtedness associated with repeated fiscal deficits. Its relative ranking remains vulnerable to a possible disorderly adjustment of such imbalances, including historically high trade deficits.'

However the report did speak still of the USA describing its qualities: "excellent business environment, efficient markets... a global centre for technology development.'

The UK retained its position in the top ten, at tenth place. The report praised the UK for its market efficiency, sophisticated financial markets, flexible labour market and low levels of unemployment.

However the UK's weaknesses were also shown to be public sector deficits and private indebtedness, which contribute to poor macroeconomic environments.

Switzerland takes the place of the USA as the number one global competitor, with its "sound institutional environment, excellent infrastructure, efficient markets and high level s of technological innovation.'