The economies of emerging nations are gaining ground on the US in terms of competitiveness, a new report has stated.
Today's annual study from business thinktank IMD says the world economy has "never been as dynamic", with none of the 55 economies in its World Competitiveness Yearbook in recession.
But the Lausanne-based organisation warns that the growth in developing economies could force the US and European governments to introduce "protectionist measures".
IMD competitiveness director Professor Stephane Garelli explains that the "new faces of protectionism will be subtler than in the past".
"Corporate governance, environmental protection, intellectual property or social rights are the new key words," he elaborated.
"In 2007 and beyond, economic relations will be more tense than ever as emerging markets turn into emerging powers and challenge the established order for competitiveness."
Although the US remains the top-ranked economy based on its ability to create and maintain an environment that sustains the competitiveness of enterprises, a host of countries including India, China, Russia, Slovakia and Estonia are all cited as "closing the gap".
Britain's place on the top 55 is unchanged at 20, with Iceland, Taiwan and New Zealand all ranked above the UK.
Meanwhile the economies of Italy, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and France are all said to be losing ground.
World's most competitive economies (GDP ranking)
1 US (1) 2 Singapore (44) 3 Hong Kong (36) 4 Luxembourg (65) 5 Denmark (28) 6 Switzerland (20) 7 Iceland (93) 8 Netherlands (16) 9 Sweden (19) 10 Canada (8) 20 Britain (5)