Switzerland, Luxembourg and Panama have topped a list of countries seen as being "open for business" in a survey of 21,000 people around the world.
Luxembourg, which came first, and Switzerland (second), did well in business terms for their favorable tax environments and transparent governments, while Panama's cheap manufacturing and its reputation as a tax haven helped it to the third spot. However, the Central American country finished near the bottom of the list in terms of transparent government practices.
The Best Countries list was compiled by the BAV Group, part of agency group WPP, along with Pennsylvania University's Wharton School and the U.S. News and World Report.
The U.S. ranked 43rd on the "open for business" sub-list, while the U.K. came 20th. Both were seen as relatively bureaucratic but the U.K. did better than the U.S. in terms of having transparent government practices.
People were also asked to rank countries overall, with measures including culture and heritage, quality of life and entrepreneurialism. Switzerland came top, followed by Canada, Germany and the U.K. The U.S. ranked eighth overall.
Dropping one place on the overall list from 3rd in 2017 is a mixed result for the U.K., said David Roth, head of the Best Countries reports for WPP, who added that the country had felt the impact of Brexit. "Although Britain has a strong image globally in several areas including entrepreneurship, cultural influence and power, it will need to be vigilant about its brand appeal on the world stage," Roth said in an emailed statement.
The U.K. fell a place because of poorer ratings for being open for business, having open travel policies and as a place people would like to live, WPP's report said. But the perception of "Brand U.K." by trading partners including the U.S., China, the E.U., and India is positive, and Europeans ranked the U.K. fourth in the world for its entrepreneurship.
Respondents were also asked to rank political and business leaders. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau topped the list, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. U.S. President Donald Trump was the least liked, followed by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Russia's Vladimir Putin.
Former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt was the most liked business leader, followed by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX. J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was the least favored, followed by LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
WPP consultancy BAV questioned 21,117 people from 36 countries using an online survey between July and September 2017. More than 6,000 were "informed elites" and nearly 6,500 were business decision-makers.