UK Rises In Economic Competitiveness Rankings
The UK has moved up one place in a league table charting the economic competitiveness of countries.
Britain rose to ninth in the annual rankings - produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) - which saw many developed economies recover some ground in the wake of the financial crisis.
It said of the UK: "The country improves its performance thanks to gains derived from lower levels of fiscal deficit and public debt.
"In addition to these more favourable macroeconomic conditions, the UK continues to benefit from an efficient labour market and a high level of financial development, despite the recent difficulties in parts of its banking system and the fact that the difficult access to loans remains the most problematic factor for doing business in the country."
The report went on to rank the UK second in uptake of information and communications technology, saying it allowed the country to create "highly sophisticated and innovative businesses".
However, it recommended the UK "raise the overall quality of its education system, most notably in the areas of mathematics and science".
The United States and Japan were the biggest winners in the top ten.
The WEF said: "The United States improves its competitiveness position for the second consecutive year, climbing two places to third on the back of gains to its institutional framework and innovation scores".
The body, which organises the annual Davos meeting of the global political and business elite, said Switzerland remained the world's most competitive economy followed by Singapore.
It also pointed to countries facing "major competitiveness challenges" and cited France and Italy, unchanged at 23rd and 49th respectively, saying they "appear not to have fully engaged" in the process of implementing reforms.
The report was released as the Chancellor George Osborne told Sky News that the risks to the UK's recovery from abroad were rising - largely a result of stagnant growth in the euro area.
China - the world's second-largest economy - gained one place, moving to 28th.
The WEF rankings are based on a raft of criteria: institutions, infrastructure and the macroeconomic environment, plus health and education, goods and labour market efficiency, financial market development, technology, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.