Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Taiwan jumps to 15th in economic freedom ranking

SCORE FOR 2010:The nation moved up 15 spots from its 2009 ranking, but one analyst said it needed to do something about its high tax rate and market openness

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON and TAIPEI

Taiwan jumped to 15th place in the rankings of economic freedom in 144 countries in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, according to a report published by the Washington-based Cato Institute on Tuesday.

The relaxation of regulations on foreign ownership, business and investment helped Taiwan move up from 30th place the previous year to score 7.72 in 2010 and take 15th place, the report said.

Nonetheless, Taiwan still needs to improve its high tax rate and market openness, Robert Lawson of the Economic Freedom of the World project told the Central News Agency.

Taiwan ranked 21st in 1980 and fell to 24th in 1995, according to the report.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) said yesterday at a Taiwan-Sweden business council meeting in Taipei that he was pleased, but not surprised at Taiwan’s leap in the rankings.

Liang said his ministry has been working to introduce flexible regulations on trade and investment in an effort to create a more liberal economic system.

The overall economic environment in Taiwan is very different from in Hong Kong and Singapore, which ranked first and second on the list, respectively, as they are considered city-states, he said.

Taiwan has a larger population and economy of scale, he added.

While Taiwan may not be able to fully match the two top-performing countries on the list, it will continue to focus on market liberalization as an inevitable and irrevocable trend, he said.

New Zealand (8.36), Switzerland (8.24), Australia (7.97) and Canada (7.97) rounded out the top six spots in the report.

South Korea, one of Taiwan’s main competitors, dropped from 31st in 2009 to 37th in 2010 with a score of 7.40.

Ups and downs:

‧ A total of 144 countries were ranked.

‧ Taiwan rose from 30th place in the 2009 rankings to 15th place in the 2010 list.

‧ Taiwan outperformed several major nations, including the US, which ranked 19th; Japan, which ranked 20th; Germany in 31st place; South Korea at 37th; and France, which ranked 47th.

‧ Hong Kong ranked No. 1 on the list, with Singapore coming in at No. 2, New Zealand No. 3, Switzerland No. 4, Australia No. 5 and Canada No. 6.

‧ China came in at No. 107, behind Brazil, which was 105th, but ahead of India, which was ranked 111th.

The US, the world’s largest economy, fell from second in 2000 to eighth in 2005 and 19th in 2010 (unadjusted ranking of 18th), the report said.

China recorded a score of 6.35, dropping from 103rd place in 2009 to 107th in 2010.

The rankings of other large economies in this year’s report were Japan, 20th (7.64); Germany, 31st (7.52); France, 47th (7.32); Italy, 83rd (6.77); Mexico, 91st, (6.66); Russia, 95th (6.56); Brazil, 105th (6.37); and India, 111th (6.26).

The Economic Freedom of the world project employed a variety of data containing variables such as legal structure, property rights, sound finances, sensible regulation and freedom to trade.

The global economic freedom index averaged 6.83 in 2010, a slight increase from 6.79 in 2009.

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