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Hong Kong Ranked As Freest Economy For 21st Year

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

30 January 2015

For the 21st consecutive year, Hong Kong has maintained its position as the world's freest economy in The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.

A Government spokesman said: "We are committed to the free market principles which are the foundation of Hong Kong's sustained economic stability, growth, and prosperity. We are pleased to see that our efforts to maintain Hong Kong's economic freedom have been reaffirmed internationally for 21 years in a row."

Hong Kong retained top position in business freedom, trade freedom, and financial freedom; received the second-top score in investment freedom; and saw a slight improvement in its scores for fiscal freedom and labor freedom.

The Heritage Foundation highlighted Hong Kong's efficient and transparent regulatory framework, low and simple tax regime, sophisticated capital markets, and its status as the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the Mainland.

However, it also remarked that the institutional uniqueness of the Hong Kong economy had "faded a bit." In this regard, the Government spokesman added that "the Government will continue to … safeguard our free market principles along with our fellow citizens and maintain Hong Kong's status as an international city."

The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom ranks the degree of economic freedom in 178 economies around the world. Ten factors are assessed: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption, and labor freedom.

In 2015, Hong Kong achieved an overall score of 89.6 (on a scale from 0 to 100), a decline of 0.5 points compared with last year. This score was significantly above the global average of 60.4. Singapore ranked second with 89.4, followed by New Zealand (82.1), Australia (81.5) and Switzerland (80.5).

The spokesperson noted the narrowing gap between Hong Kong and Singapore in 2015. "We are keenly aware of competition from other economies within and outside the region," he confirmed. "We always try to keep up with the latest global economic developments and strive to enhance our competitiveness."

The United States scored 76.2, making its economy, for the second successive year, the 12th freest in the 2015 Index, just above the United Kingdom (75.8), and six places below Canada (79.1). Its score is 0.7 points higher than last year, with modest gains in six of the ten economic freedoms, including control of government spending and fiscal freedom, outweighing a slight decline in business freedom.

However, although the downward spiral in US economic freedom since 2008 came to a halt in the 2015 Index, it was noted that "a 1.6-point decline in overall economic freedom over the past five years reflects broad-based deteriorations in key policy areas."

TAGS: tax | investment | business | law | capital markets | international financial centres (IFC) | Australia | China | Singapore | United Kingdom | Canada | Hong Kong | New Zealand | Switzerland | United States

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