Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan climbs a spot to become 24th-freest economy


Taiwan is the world's 24th freest economy among 130 nations, one spot up from last year, according to a report released on Thursday by the Fraser Institute, an independent public policy organization in Canada.

The Economic Freedom of the World: 2006 Annual Report ranked nations on economic freedom by five major areas -- size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to exchange with foreigners and regulation of credit, labor and business -- using data collected in 2004.

On a scale of one to 10, Taiwan improved slightly from the last report with a composite score of 7.3. Its score on "access to sound money" remained the same at 9.7 points, Taiwan's highest score in any category. Taiwan's weakest item was regulation of credit, labor and business, in which Taiwan scored just 6.0, up from 5.9 in the last report.

The nation was rated 6.2 in size of government, the same level as in the last report, while legal structure and security of property rights fell to 6.4 from 6.5, and freedom to exchange with foreigners declined to 8.0 from 8.3.

The highest ranking Taiwan had was No. 16 in 1990, and the lowest was No. 30 in 2001, according to the report.

Hong Kong got the highest score of 8.7 and once again ranks as the world's freest economy. Singapore came in second with 8.5 points, and Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US tied for third with scores of 8.2.

Rankings of other major Asian economies included No. 19 for Japan, No. 35 for South Korea and No. 95 for China.

While Taiwan has moderate economic freedom, the nation trailed behind major Asian competitors in the ease of doing business.

According to a recent report released by the World Bank and the International Finance Corp, Taiwan ranked No. 47 in ease of doing business, down from 43rd last year.

The report, "Doing Business 2007: How to Reform," investigates the regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it in 175 countries.

The ease of starting a business, dealing with licenses, employing workers, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes and other categories were researched.

Singapore was the country where doing business was the easiest last year and this year, followed by New Zealand, the US, Canada and Hong Kong.

Taiwan lagged behind many Asian competitors in the category. Japan ranked No. 11, Thailand was No. 18, South Korea came at No. 23, Malaysia secured the 25th spot, and Mongolia was ranked No. 45, according to the report.

The report also found the top five economic reformers are Georgia, Romania, Mexico, China and Peru, which have the significant improvement in the period.

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