The US remains the most competitive economy in the world, according to the 2004 World Competitiveness Yearbook by Swiss business school IMD.
The US remains the world's most competitive economy
The survey, which takes in more than 300 different factors from government to private sector data, found Singapore had jumped two places to come second.
It said the biggest risers overall were the Chinese region of Zhejiang (19th) and India (34th).
In Europe, it warned EU expansion could hit Ireland (10th) and Portugal (39th).
The report said both two nations and also Spain (31st) may possibly find they lose business to the new EU members in eastern Europe.
MOST COMPETITIVE ECONOMIES
6. Hong Kong
The UK slipped three places to 22nd in the survey, with Germany stable at 21nd and France dropping seven places to 30th.
America's continued number one position was put down to an increase in overseas investment by US firms.
"For every dollar invested in the US, four dollars are invested by American enterprises abroad," said the report's editor IMD economist Stephane Garelli.
"Competitiveness has so far thrived on exploiting low cost opportunities around the world."
The report said western Europe continued to lag behind because of sluggish growth and growing budget deficits, as the continent got "marginally richer, but a lot older".
The most competitive EU economy was Denmark in seventh place.
Asia was emerging as "a dominant force in world competitiveness," the report said, with Zhejiang increasing up the table by 16 places and India by 19.