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Russian troops surrounded a Ukrainian military base in March 2015

Russia, Ukraine See Competitiveness Plunge Amid Crisis

May 27, 2015
In the annual ranking by the Swiss-based Institute for Management Development, Russia fell from 38th place to 45th out of 61 countries. Ukraine nose-dived 11 spots to 60th place.

Russia and Ukraine have seen their economic competitiveness plummet amid heightened tensions in the region, according to a global ranking topped by the United States and Hong Kong.

In its annual ranking released Wednesday by the Swiss-based Institute for Management Development (IMD), Russia fell from 38th place to 45th out of the 61 countries.

Conflict-wracked Ukraine meanwhile nose-dived 11 spots, landing at 60th place, ahead of only Venezuela, the ranking showed.

The drops "highlight the negative impact that armed conflict and the accompanying higher market volatility have on competitiveness in an increasingly interconnected international economy," IMD said in a statement.

The conflict with pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine's industrial east -- which Kiev blames on Moscow -- has cost more than 6,250 lives since April last year and has driven more than a million people from their homes.

The conflict has also greatly exacerbated economic difficulties in the former Soviet republic, which scored worst of all the countries listed in the economic growth category, after seeing its economy contract 6.5% last year.

Ukraine ranked near the bottom across all the categories used to determine a country's competitiveness: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure, the IMD ranking showed.

Russia's competitiveness has also taken a hard hit, as the Ukraine crisis has chilled Moscow's ties with Europe and the United States to a degree last seen in the Soviet era.

U.S., Hong Kong in top spots

The United States meanwhile maintained the top spot in the global ranking for the third year running, thanks to "its strong business efficiency and financial sector, its innovation drive and the effectiveness of its infrastructure," IMD said.

It was followed by Hong Kong, which jumped two spots to second place, and Singapore which held onto third.

Switzerland meanwhile slipped from second to fourth, followed by Canada, which climbed two spots, Luxembourg, which was up five, Norway, up three, and Denmark, which rose one spot to eighth place.

Sweden came in ninth, slipping a full four spots from last year's ranking, as did Germany, which only just managed to stay in the top 10, after suffering a steep drop in business efficiency.

The 2015 ranking shows "productivity and efficiency are in the driver's seat of the competitiveness wagon," IMD chief Arturo Bris said.

"Companies in those countries are increasing their efforts to minimize their environmental impact and provide a strong organizational structure for workforces to thrive," he said.

Among large emerging economies, the results were mixed, with Brazil slipping two spots to 54th and South Africa inching down one spot to 53rd, while China rose one to 22nd and Mexico jumped three spots to 39th. India remained steady at 44th.

Many of the noteworthy shifts in countries' competitiveness ranking were due to changes in their business efficiency, which is measured through things like productivity, management practices, the labor market and attitudes and values, IMD said.

Greece, for instance, climbed seven spots in the overall ranking to 50th place as it soared nine spots in the business efficiency category to 43rd.

And Indonesia's five-notch drop to 42nd place came as the country plunged 12 spots in terms of business efficiency.

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