Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan falls 10 places in Heritage poll

STAFF WRITER

Taiwan was yesterday ranked the world's 37th-freest economy in the Heritage Foundation's annual poll of economic freedom, a marked fall from 27th place in the last survey.

The annual poll put out by the Washington-based think tank noted that Taiwan's trade policy score was 0.5 points better this year and its government fiscal burden score was 0.1 points better.

But the nation's banking and finance score was 1 point worse compared with the previous year, which resulted in an overall score of 0.04 points down this year.

The poll said that Taiwan's financial sector has been steadily opening to private investment since the mid-1980s, but that the market share held by foreign banks remained small -- below 3 percent.

Although the government has implemented privatization to improve bank competitiveness, the poll said the government still had a substantial role in the banking sector, a factor the foundation said had hurt the nation's ranking this year.

The poll also claimed that Taiwan's business regulations can be burdensome.

"Many investors complain of unrealistic wording in regulations and inconsistent enforcement," it said. "Especially for small investors in services, the investment approval process can be daunting."

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