BRAZIL RICHER THAN UNITED KINGDOM

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The Brazil beaten them at football and they outdo the world at partying: now Brazil has overtaken Britain in the world economic rankings.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research reveals that Britain has slipped to seventh place in its world economic league table, leaving it trailing behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and Brazil.

And the organisation predicts that over the next decade the world will see a shift in the importance of emerging market and European economies.

CEBR chief economist Douglas McWilliams said: "Brazil has beaten the European countries at soccer for a very long time. But beating them at economics is a new phenomenon. Our world economic league table shows how the world's economic map is changing, with Asian countries and commodity producing economies climbing up the league, while we in Europe fall back."

Britain was the world's fourth-largest economy for most of Tony Blair's tenure as Prime Minister, but since being replaced by China in 2006 it has continued to fall while emerging market economies such as oil-rich Brazil go from strength to strength.

Britain is widely expected to plunge back into recession over the next few months as it struggles to keep its head above water amid weak domestic demand and the eurozone debt crisis.

But there was some good news for Britain's Chancellor, who has been involved in a spat with the French government over which country has the best economy.

The table, based on IMF data and the centre's own GDP forecasts, shows that Britain will overtake France in 2016. Russia is set to reach No 4 in 2020, up from No 11 in 2010, while India will move up to No 5, from No 9 last year. European countries, including Britain, will drop back but Britain will still overtake France in 2016. Germany's powerhouse economy is set to drop from No 4 last year to No 7 in 2020, Britain from sixth to eighth and France from fifth to ninth.

Most of the economic growth that is likely to take place next year will be in the emerging economies, according to the centre.

China is forecast to grow by 7.6 per cent and India by 6 per cent. But other recent star economies are likely to face an economic slowdown, with Turkish growth slowing to 2.5 per cent, from 7.1 per cent this year. Saudi Arabia's growth will be at 4 per cent, after 6.1 per cent this year; Russia's at 2.8 per cent, from 3.8 per cent; and Brazil's at 2.5 per cent, from 2.8 per cent.

The centre also warned that failure to resolve the eurozone debt crisis would result in one or more countries leaving the single currency, sovereign defaults and several banks going bust. It said this scenario would also result in eurozone GDP plunging by as much as 2 per cent next year and the world economy growing by only 1.1 per cent. If the euro problem is solved, then eurozone GDP would contract by 0.6 per cent in 2012, the centre said, while the world economy would grow by 2.5 per cent, down from the previous forecast of 3.1 per cent. Eurozone leaders this month agreed a plan to save the single currency, but already it looks as though this could be falling apart. Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said that Ireland may need to hold a referendum on the EU treaty.