Nation ranks as 18th freest economy: index


HONG KONG — Taiwan was ranked as the world’s 18th freest economy, with a strong commitment to structural reform and openness to global trade, according to the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom released by the U.S. Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Of the 179 countries and areas classified in the 18th annual index, Taiwan’s economic freedom score came in at 71.9, making its economy the 18th freest in this year’s index. Taiwan’s score was 1.1 points higher than last year, with improvements in six of the 10 economic freedoms including business freedom and government spending. Taiwan was ranked 5th freest out of 41 economies in the Asia Pacific region. “A strong commitment to structural reform and openness to global commerce have enabled Taiwan to become a global leader in economic freedom,” the foundation noted in a page about Taiwan.

It also said that President Ma Ying-jeou, elected on a platform that promised a more open economic relationship with China, had moved to relax cross-Taiwan Strait barriers and had negotiated a formal economic agreement — the economic cooperation framework agreement — with China. Although internal opposition to engaging with China is considerable because of fears that sovereignty will be lost, the trade agreement seems to have encouraged recovery from the financial crisis,” said the foundation. However, the foundation indicated that corruption and a rigid labor market continued to restrain Taiwan’s overall economic freedom. Meanwhile, Hong Kong maintained its position as the world’s freest economy for the 18th consecutive year, with a score of 89.9. Singapore and Australia finished second and third in the rankings.