All of the top 10 countries suffered fall in their global reputation this year - with eight of those drops being classed as "significant." The countries, in order, were: the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden.
The Anholt-GfK study measures global perceptions of 50 developed and developing countries and claims to be unmatched in the level of detail on which the nation ranking is judged.
The drop in scores marks a stark departure from 2015, when eight of the top 10 countries improved their overall NBI score. This year, the U.S. and U.K. suffered the largest decreases — over one point each.
For 2016, the U.S. scored strongly in the categories of exports (No. 1 worldwide), culture (No. 2), immigration and investment (No. 2), tourism (No. 3) and people (No. 5). The country’s lone weak spot is the governance metric, where the U.S. ranks 19th — down one place from 2015. The 2016 NBI surveys were conducted before the U.S. presidential election.
“Usually, global perception of individual countries is incredibly stable — but changes can and do take place,” said Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor who created the NBI study in 2005. “It is a country’s perceived impact on the world that affects its global reputation, far more than its assets or achievements — and this is what we are seeing here. Those countries that are perceived as being world influencers are suffering following a year of ongoing international conflict and humanitarian issues.”
Declines in NBI scores do not necessarily produce changes in the overall rankings — at least, not immediately, GfK says. The U.S., Germany and the U.K. maintain their first-, second- and third-place finishes — but the U.S. now holds only a nominal edge over Germany, presenting Germany with an opening to reclaim the top spot in the coming year. Similarly, Canada — now in fourth place, having beaten France — is on the heels of the U.K.
Outside the top three positions, there have been multiple changes of position, signaling a sharp contrast to the stability observed prior to 2015. France’s significant score drop, driven largely by losses in its perceived governance and immigration and investment, has allowed Canada to capture fourth place, leaving France in fifth. This year also marks the end of what was Japan’s rolling comeback, as the nation went down in ranking from sixth place to seventh. This allowed Italy to move up one position, compared to 2015.
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