Friday 30 November 2018


Ahead of the G20 summit in Argentina this week, the British Council’s ‘Powers of Attraction’ report presents the results from an international survey of young people’s perceptions of the soft power of the G20 group of nations.

The British Council has been surveying the views of young people from across the G20 group of nations every two years since 2012.  The report sets out how attractive and trustworthy these leading economies are to young people and the impact this has on their decisions to do business with, study and visit these countries.

The UK’s position has recovered across a range of metrics in multiple territories following a dip in 2016 after the EU referendum. However, the picture is not wholly positive. The UK’s rankings are not altogether back to pre-Referendum levels and there has been a worrying drop in the numbers saying they intend to study or visit the country.

  • Canada comes first in the rankings across four key metrics – overall attractiveness (84%), trust in people (73%), trust in government (64%) and trust in institutions (68%).
  • Italy and Australia are in joint second place (82%) for overall attractiveness, with the UK in fourth (81%)
  • Australia and the UK are in joint second place for trust in people (67%).
  • Australia is again second (57%) with the UK in third place (56%) for trust in government
  • The UK is second (64%) for trust in institutions ahead of Germany (63%).

 Where Canadian officials have reason to cheer, their American counterparts have cause for concern: the US government is more distrusted than any other in the G20 group of nations, according to the survey.

 The bottom four scorings for ‘not trusted’ in the global chart for trust in government are:

  • China - 41 per cent
  • Russia - 43 per cent
  • Saudi Arabia - 44 per cent
  • and, in last place, the USA - 45 per cent. 


 31% of respondents say they intended to visit the UK in future, down from 37% in 2016 putting it in sixth place.

In terms of trust, trust in people is back at second place having bounced back to pre-referendum levels (67 per cent of respondents say they trust people from the UK).

Trust in government (56 per cent) is also up; the UK’s third place in 2018 is an improvement on the post-referendum survey though still below the results pre-referendum.  The UK is in second place for trust in institutions (64 per cent) – this is the one metric that was seemingly unaffected by the referendum.Having fallen out of the top three in 2016, the UK is steady at fourth place for overall attractiveness (81 per cent). While still second behind the USA, there has been a drop of 1% (to 16%) in the numbers of people saying they intend to study in the UK in future.

What is clear is that it is not that one vote back on 23 June 2016 that matters most to the UK’s future success; it will be how the UK conducts itself in the months and years after 29 March 2019 that will determine the extent that it is viewed as an attractive and trusted partner internationally.

Notes to Editor


For more information, read the full report.

GfK conducted the survey in April 2018.  One thousand 18- to 34-year-olds, with at least secondary education, in each of the 19 member states of the G20 were surveyed, with an additional 600 UK representatives surveyed to provide detail of the views of young people from across the nations and regions of the UK. 

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