China has slipped six places to 54th in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) global competitiveness rankings, a report said yesterday.

Due to cautious macro-economic management, China is enjoying buoyant growth rates, low inflation, one of the highest savings rates in the world, and manageable levels of public debt, the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report (2006-07) said.

However, a number of structural weaknesses need to be addressed, including those in the largely State-controlled banking sector, the report warned.

China also has low penetration rates for technologies such as the Internet and personal computers, and its secondary and tertiary school enrolment rates are still low by international standards.

China also needs to improve environmental qualities of various institutions both private and public, said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist and Director of the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Network.

Switzerland, Finland and Sweden are the world’s most competitive economies, according to the report. Denmark, Singapore, the United States, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom complete the top 10 list. The biggest faller is the United States, dropping from first to sixth.

The rankings are drawn from a combination of publicly available hard data and the results of a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the WEF among 125 economies worldwide.

"By providing detailed assessments of the economic conditions of nations worldwide, the report offers policy-makers and business leaders an important tool in the formulation of improved economic policies and institutional reforms," said Klaus Schwab, the WEF Founder and Executive Chairman.

However, the WEF rankings differ from a report released by the Lausanne-based International Institution for Management Development in May, which said China’s global competitiveness rose from last year’s 31st place to 19th this year.