Hong Kong has once again beat key rival Singapore to be ranked the world’s freest economy by a US think tank for the 23rd consecutive year.
The city scored 89.8 out of 100 points in the annual index of economic freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation, up by 1.2 points from last year, beating Singapore by 1.2 points and edging the island nation to second place.
North Korea was rated the least free economy, with only 4.9 points, while China was ranked 111th with 57.4 points, up 5.4 points. Taiwan clinched 11th place with 76.5 points, up 1.8 points. A total of 180 economies were rated in the report.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po welcomed the news on Thursday, saying the report, released on 15 February, showed that the government’s commitment to safeguarding free market principles had once again been affirmed.
“On top of maintaining our favourable business environment, free trade, simple and low tax regime, rule of law and independent judiciary, the government will also strive to enhance our financial infrastructure and foster closer economic cooperation with major trading partners, so as to strengthen Hong Kong’s leading position as an international city,” he said in a statement.
This year, the city’s overall score improved after two years of decline, thus widening its lead over long-time rival Singapore.
Out of the 12 components measured in the Index of Economic Freedom report, Hong Kong achieved the maximum score of 100 points in fiscal health, and 90 points or more in seven other areas, including business freedom, tax burden and property rights.
“Hong Kong has demonstrated a high degree of economic resilience and remains one of the world’s most competitive financial and business hubs,” the report noted.
“The high-quality legal framework, which provides effective protection of property rights and strong support for the rule of law, continues to be a cornerstone of strength for this dynamic city. There is little tolerance for corruption, and government integrity is buttressed by a high degree of transparency,” it added.
A government spokesman pledged that the administration would continue to uphold free market principles to stay ahead of the competition.
“Notwithstanding Hong Kong’s improved performance in this report, the government is fully aware of the keen competition globally and the rapid economic development of our peers in the region,” the spokesman said.