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UK to remain in the list of top economies until at least 2030

Britain is set to overtake France as the second largest economy in the European Union by 2020 and remain in the list of top economies, according to consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

By 2020, the UK economy is expected to have a size of $3.3tn (£1.9tn, €2.4tn) at market exchange rates (MER), compared to France's $3.2tn. That represents a growth rate of 17.9% from 2013. The UK will be the fifth-largest economy in the world by 2020, after the US, China, Japan and Germany.

Britain's gross domestic product (GDP) would grow to $4tn by 2030 – the sixth largest in the world, having leapfrogged by India, which would become the third largest in the table.

Meanwhile, Britain would narrow the gap with Germany, whose GDP is projected at $4.6tn.

This is projected to be driven mostly by the UK's more favourable demographics with a less rapidly ageing population and strong labour force participation rates.
- PwC economist Barret Kupelian

"The UK economy has regained its dynamism recently in contrast to France in particular. The UK should also narrow the GDP gap with Germany over time, although this is projected to be driven mostly by the UK's more favourable demographics with a less rapidly ageing population and strong labour force participation rates," PwC economist Barret Kupelian said in a statement.

"In the longer run, other emerging markets may overtake the UK, but only India looks set to do so before 2030 according to our latest projections based on GDP at market exchange rates."

Nevertheless, the country's rank among G7 nations based on PwC's ESCAPE index that combines 20 indicators of performance across economic, social, technological, environmental and political dimensions, fell to No 5 in 2013 from No 3 in 2007 and 2000.

PwC noted that the markdown is due to the global financial crisis and its relatively weak performance on social indicators such as education and income inequality, despite its good political, legal and regulatory indicators.

"The UK also scores relatively well on some economic variables such as unemployment and its relative growth and inflation performance also improved in 2013, which looks set to continue in 2014," said John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC.

"But the UK lags behind its peers in areas related to education, investment, trade deficits and income inequality. So the UK has clear strengths to build on, but also some underlying weaknesses to address even given its recent relatively strong economic recovery."

Actual and projected global GDP league table in 2013, 2020 and 2030

20132020p2030p
GDP rankCountryGDP at MERs (2013 US$ bn)GDPrankProjected GDP at MERs (2013 US$ bn)GDPrankProjected GDP at MERs (2013 US$ bn)
1US17,5281US20,3101US25,585
2China10,0282China15,8552China25,009
3Japan4,8463Japan5,2093India6,172
4Germany3,8764Germany4,2054Japan5,695
5France2,8865UK 3,2585Germany4,613
6UK 2,8286France3,1826UK 4,027
7Brazil2,2167India3,1757Brazil3,858
8Italy2,1718Brazil2,7488France3,846
9Russia2,0929Russia2,5639Russia3,659
10India1,99610Italy2,32310Mexico2,791

 Source: PwC