Belgium again loses competitive edge

Belgium has fallen back in the international list that ranks the world's most competitive economies. Belgium now features on the 17th spot - down from 15 - in a ranking headed by Switzerland.

Belgium has lost two places, but strikingly our northern neighbours, the Netherlands, have risen two spots. The Netherlands is now in fifth place, up from seven.

It's the fourth year in a row that Switzerland tops the ranking. Northern European economies are doing well and have succeeded in consolidating their competitive position since the 2008 crisis. Southern European economies are clearly in the doldrums and have all fallen back. Spain is now in 36th place, Italy in 42nd, Portugal in 49th and Greece in the 96th spot.

It's bad news for the United States too as this country has fallen back for a fourth consecutive year. It now features in 7th position. At the bottom of the list we find Burundi.