The "Trump Effect" is officially measurable, and research shows that it's hurt the U.S. as a place to do business.
That's according to the results of a study, the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, released on Thursday. Of all 50 nations surveyed, the U.S. was the only country to see its score drop--from No. 1 in 2016 to No. 6. It fares particularly poorly in the "governance" category of the research, which analysts say is directly correlated to Trump's presidency. The GfK conducted more than 20,000 interviews with adults in 20 countries this past July.
"We are witnessing a 'Trump effect,' following President Trump's focused political message of 'America First," suggested Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor who has worked with heads of state in more than 50 countries worldwide. Anholt created the study in 2005, which evaluates each nation on factors including culture, governance, people, tourism, exports and immigration/investment.
Germany reclaimed its top brand ranking, according to the research, with notable improvements in areas including culture and governance. It should be noted that Chancellor Angela Merkel secured a fourth term in the German election earlier this year, and that businesses across the country have praised her so-called "steady hand." For instance, Gero Decker, founder of Berlin IT services firm Signavio, says he's benefited from Merkel's open-door approach to immigration, hiring workers from nations including Syria, Portugal and Greece. "What I would wish is for her to foster integration even further," Decker said in a previous conversation with Inc.
Meanwhile, France jumped to No. 2 on the index for the first time since 2009, perhaps demonstrating an international optimism for the recently elected president Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to make France a "startup nation." The U.K., meanwhile, held steady at No. 3, despite concerns over the impact that Brexit could have on the free trade zone.
There are, of course, areas in which the U.S. ranked strongly. It comes in second with respect to culture and exports, and fifth for immigration-investment. And just because perception has dropped, doesn't necessarily mean it can't come back.
"Changing global perception of a national brand is challenging and slow--but countries can influence biased or outdated perceptions by understanding the negative views and actively communicating actions and changes that address those," said Vadim Volos, the firm's senior vice president of public affairs and consulting.
Still--with a drastic fall from first to sixth place--updating perceptions could take some work.