The U.S. has overtaken Singapore as the top country for the development of information and communications technology, according to a ranking by the World Economic Forum on March 28.
The Global Information Technology report 2005 praised the "impressive performance" of the technical infrastructure in the U.S., as well as the business environment. It also highlighted U.S. openness to technological innovation, helped by the higher education system and the ready availability of venture capital.
Singapore secured second place in the "Networked Readiness Index" thanks to its regulatory environment and "world class" education and training.
"Information and communication technologies presently represent one of the most important drivers in boosting efficiency and productivity in today's fast changing global economy," Augusto Lopez-Claros, co-editor of the report.
Asian countries generally faltered in the rankings. Hong Kong, Australia and Japan ranked between 11th and 16th after falling several places. China fell nine places to 50th position, losing touch with India (40th). By contrast, South Korea (14th) gained ten places.
Leading Asian nation Taiwan (seventh) -- "an ICT powerhouse in the last three decades", according to the report -- gained eight places over 2004 thanks to "intelligent" public policies and public-private partnerships in the sector.
Nordic countries again dominated the top of the ranking, with Denmark, Iceland and Finland in third to fifth places, and Sweden ranked number eight. The report said the reasons for the Nordic technological strength mirrored those behind their strong performance in overall economic competitiveness rankings: "highly-developed" education, a strong culture of innovation and government transparency that promoted a "friendly climate" for new business ventures. "The Nordic countries have been for many years ICT powerhouses, managing to harness the latest technologies to enhance the efficiency of their economies and to boost living standards," Lopez-Claros said.
Neighboring Estonia led eastern European countries in 23rd position thanks to its "excellent political and regulatory framework". Russia (72nd) fell 10 places in the ranking, reflecting concern about a deteriorating institutional environment, notably on property rights and the independence of the judicial system. the WEF said.
The index of 115 economies is based on a survey of business executives.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006