Hong Kong ranked as the world’s freest economy

HONG KONG, Jan 16, 2007 (AFP) – Hong Kong has been ranked as the world’s freest economy ahead of rival Singapore in a report released on Tuesday by a right-wing American think-tank, The Heritage Foundation.

The ranking by the Washington-based organisation puts the former British colony at the top of its Index of Economic Freedom, for a 13th successive year, as it scores top marks in six of the 10 categories on the index.

Saying Hong Kong is “clearly blazing a trial for others to follow” the foundation and co-sponsors, the Wall Street Journal, awarded the city’s economy a score of 89.3 points, 1.6 points lower than last year.

“The way that Hong Kong (became) prosperous was simply through its free and fair playing field,” said Mary Kissel, editorial page editor for the Journal.

The report lauded Hong Kong’s low income and corporate tax rate environment, simple business regulation, minimal corruption and open policy towards foreign investment with virtually no restriction on foreign capital.

However, the report said the city could do better in trade freedoms, saying some points were deducted for non-tariff barriers in areas like pharmaceuticals and market restrictions for legal services.