A high-profile report on economic competitiveness has placed Ireland at the bottom of 139 countries due to the state of its banks.

The Global Competitiveness Report, compiled by the World Economic Forum, conducted a survey of businesses in each country, including the unique factors affecting each nation's business climate.

In the 'soundness of banks' rankings, Ireland is currently placing last, behind even Iceland and Greece, while Ireland ranks only 117th for ease of access to loans. Access to loans was now rated as the biggest problem for doing business in the Irish survey.

Nonetheless, Ireland scores high marks for the quality of its institutions, and for the notable efficiency of its goods and labour markets. It also comes 21st in the technology category.

Switzerland has retained its place at the top of the list this year, having knocked the United States off the top spot last year. In fact,the US has fallen even further from second to fourth in this year's list. Sweden was second and Singapore third.