Qatar is the most competitive economy in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2012-2013, released today by the World Economic Forum. In the Mena region, Qatar stood at 11th in the global ranking. Switzerland, for the fourth consecutive year, topped the overall global rankings, Singapore remained in second position and Finland in third position, overtaking Sweden (4th). Northern and Western European countries dominated the top 10 with the Netherlands (5th), Germany (6th) and United Kingdom (8th). The United States (7th), Hong Kong (9th) and Japan (10th) complete the ranking of the top 10 most competitive economies. The report indicates that Switzerland and countries in Northern Europe have been consolidating their strong competitiveness positions since the financial and economic downturn in 2008. On the other hand, countries in Southern Europe, i.e. Portugal (49th), Spain (36th), Italy (42nd) and particularly Greece (96th) continue to suffer from competitiveness weaknesses in terms of macroeconomic imbalances, poor access to financing, rigid labour markets and an innovation deficit. The large emerging market economies (BRICS) display different performances. Despite a slight decline in the rankings of three places, the People’s Republic of China (29th) continued to lead the group. Of the others, only Brazil (48th) moved up this year, with South Africa (52nd), India (59th) and Russia (67th) experiencing small declines in rankings. Behind Singapore, several Asian economies are performing strongly, with Hong Kong SAR (9th), Japan (10th), Taiwan, China (13th) and the Republic of Korea (19th) all in the top 20. In Latin America, Chile (33rd) retains the lead and a number of countries see their competitiveness improve, such as Panama (40th), Brazil (48th), Mexico (53rd) and Peru (61st). In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa (52nd) and Mauritius (54th) feature in the top half of the rankings. However, most countries in the region continue to require efforts across the board to improve their competitiveness. GCR is a yearly report published by the World Economic Forum. The first report was released in 1979. Since 2004, the Global Competitiveness Report ranks countries based on the Global Competitiveness Index, developed by Xavier Sala-i-Martin. The Global Competitiveness Index integrates the macroeconomic and the micro/business aspects of competitiveness into a single index.