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Hong Kong ranks world's freest economy for 15th straight years
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16:27, January 13, 2009

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Hong Kong continued to take the top place in the ranking of the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom for the 15th consecutive year, revealed the U.S. Heritage Foundation here Tuesday.

According to the ranking, Hong Kong scores 90 this year, 0.3 point better than last year, well above the world average of 59.5.

Among the 10 individual areas assessed, Hong Kong ranks first in trade freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom. Hong Kong also ranks in the top 10 in another three areas, namely business freedom, monetary freedom and property rights.

The Heritage Foundation noted that Hong Kong's institutional strengths had allowed it to achieve high levels of prosperity reinforced by vibrant entrepreneurial activity.

The income and corporate tax rates in Hong Kong were very competitive, and overall taxation was relatively small as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Heritage Foundation.

The foundation also noted that Hong Kong's business regulation was straightforward, and the labor market was flexible.

The foundation said Hong Kong was one of the world's leading financial centers, and the regulation of banking and financial services was transparent and efficient. The study noted that property rights were well protected by an independent and corruption-free judiciary.

In the Heritage Foundation ranking, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom took another spots in the top 10 ranking.

Compared with Singapore, Hong Kong fares better in trade freedom, fiscal freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom, while Singapore fares better in business freedom, government size, monetary freedom, freedom from corruption and labor freedom.

Welcoming the study, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong John Tsang said, "We are determined to uphold Hong Kong as the freest economy in the world and we see the role of the government as that of a facilitator."

Tsang noted that the Hong Kong government provides a business-friendly environment where all firms can compete on a level playing field and establish an appropriate regulatory regime to ensure the integrity and smooth functioning of a free market.

The study measured the degree of economic freedom of 179 economies worldwide by assessing 10 factors: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labor freedom.


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