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.
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.