The British Council has welcomed new evidence from the BBC that views of the UK continue to improve around the world - building on the 2012 Olympics, the UK Government’s GREAT Campaign and major British Council-led UK cultural festivals, English and UK educational opportunities worldwide.
In the annual Country Ratings Poll carried out for the BBC World Service, the UK is in third place – climbing one place from last year’s position, with a bigger improvement than any other country.
John Worne, the British Council's Director of Strategy, said: "In a tough year for popular perceptions the UK has bucked the trend, surging to a podium finish as the third most positively rated country for its influence in the world. Hats off to Germany and the perennially popular Canada but, despite austerity, the UK’s culture and international contribution continue to win admirers for UK in the world."
The BBC Poll:
A new 25-country poll for BBC World Service indicates the UK is now the third most favourably regarded of all the countries rated, behind only Germany and Canada.
The 2013 Country Ratings Poll, conducted by GlobeScan and PIPA among 26,299 people around the world between December 2012 and April 2013, asked respondents to rate 16 countries and the EU on whether their influence in the world is “mostly positive” or “mostly negative.”
The UK, has climbed from fourth place to third with a four-point increase in positive views since 2012, more than for any other country. It was rated positively by 55 per cent on average in 21 tracking countries surveyed both in 2012 and 2013.
Germany regained the position of the most favourably viewed country, with 59 per cent worldwide rating it positively. It displaces Japan, which saw its positive ratings drop from 58 to 51 per cent falling from first to fourth place overall.
The poll also finds that positive views of China and India have fallen sharply over the last year. On average, positive views of China have dropped eight points to 42 per cent while negative views have risen by the same amount to reach 39 per cent. After improving for several years, views of China have sunk to their lowest level since this polling began in 2005.
India has shown a similar decline, with negative views up eight points and positive views down six. For the first time, this year those with negative views (35%) slightly outnumber those with positive views of India (34%). Overall, China is ranked ninth, while India is ranked twelfth.
The most favourable attitudes toward the UK are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ghanaians view British influence most positively with almost nine out of ten people holding positive views (88%, up 25 points). Nigerians are close behind (75% positive), as are Kenyans (70% positive).
Views in fellow Anglophone countries remain very positive, with Americans and Canadians maintaining favourable opinions of British influence (74% and 69% respectively). Australians also hold positive views (61% positive).
In the 25 countries surveyed this year, predominantly positive views of the UK are found in 22, and only the publics of Greece and Turkey lean negatively. Opinion in Pakistan is divided. Public sentiment toward the UK is positive among Egyptians.
All EU countries except Greece rate British influence positively. Positive views have increased considerably in France (64%, up 12 points) and in Spain (66%, up 17 points). Poland is also very upbeat about the UK’s influence, with 68 per cent responding positively. While still positive on balance, however, positive views in Germany have declined for the last two years (48%, down five points since 2012 and 19 points since 2011).
Russians show stable and favourable inclinations, with 44 per cent leaning positive. However, opinion in Turkey has shifted since 2011: divided two years ago (41% positive vs 40% negative), Turks are now leaning negatively (31% vs 40%).
All countries surveyed in Latin America view British influence positively, with perceptions being most favourable in Chile (55%, up 15 points). Opinions in Brazil and Peru are more mixed, with 33 and 30 per cent respectively giving positive ratings to the UK’s influence in the world, and almost half of respondents in both countries not giving a clear rating. In Brazil, however, negative views have decreased by ten points to 19 per cent.
Among Asian countries, opinions of British influence are positive overall. South Koreans (67% positive) and Indonesians (65%) rate British influence the most highly in Asia.
The greatest positive change in the region is in India, where positive views have surged 20 points to 49 per cent, and negative views have decreased seven points to 16 per cent.
In China and in Japan, 48% and 44% continue to hold favourable views of the UK.
Only Pakistan is split in its citizens’ opinions, with 35 per cent holding positive views and 36 per cent holding negative views; however, the picture has noticeably improved, last year Pakistanis leaned negative (24% positive vs 32% negative).