Ireland has risen to 15th in competitiveness rankings compiled each year by Swiss business school IMD.

The country's position has improved from 17th last year and 24th as recently as 2011.

Ireland is third in the world in terms of its image abroad and perception as a place in which to do business. 

It also ranked first in a number of sectors, including availability of skilled labour, flexibility and adaptability of workforce, attitudes to globalisation and investment incentives.

IMD notes that for most countries there is a strong correlation between the image rank and the competitiveness ranking but that Ireland rates much higher on this criterion than its competitive position would suggest.

The business school puts together this closely-watched list each year to rate how well countries manage all their resources to increase their prosperity.

The overall ranking released today reflects more than 300 criteria, two-thirds of which are based on statistical indicators and one-third on a survey of 4,300 international executives.

Meanwhile, IDA Ireland has said that the country's two place improvement in the annual global competitiveness rankings is excellent news for Ireland's foreign direct investment proposition.

"Ireland in recent years has regained valuable competitiveness, while continuing to offer a strong skills base to prospective companies looking to invest here. This has helped to deliver a very strong FDI performance by Ireland," commented IDA's chief executive Barry O'Leary.

The US, Switzerland and Singapore made up the top three rankings of the overall index from IMD. They were followed by Sweden, Germany, Canada, UAE, Denmark and Norway.