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By Mark Scott
Which country is best placed to ride out the global recession? That question is at the heart of this year's World Competitiveness Yearbook, an annual report published by IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland. Researchers ranked 57 of the world's leading economies based on four categories of competitiveness: economy, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure. And for the 16th consecutive year, the U.S. came out on top, despite the financial crisis and deep economic downturn there. European countries held on to half of the top 20 spots, while emerging economies such as China and Qatar continued to gain ground on their Western rivals.
To be successful on the global stage, particularly as the world struggles with its worst economic situation in decades, countries have to combine open markets and investment incentives with a flexible labor market and a well-educated workforce.
Click on to see which are the world's most competitive countries in 2009.
Note: Figures for per capita GDP and real GDP growth are for 2008.