STILL WORK TO DO:In Taiwan, connections remain between politics and big business, and corruption is still a problem, the ‘Index of Economic Freedom’ said
By William Lowther / Staff reporter in WASHINGTON Staff reporter in WASHINGTON
Taiwan has achieved its highest-ever score in the annual Index of Economic Freedom released on Friday, remaining the 14th-freest economy in the world, the same position it occupied in the previous year’s ranking.
The nation is ranked fifth out of 42 economies in the Asia-Pacific region and has improved over the past year in seven of the 10 categories measured by the index.
“Despite progress, however, a relatively high level of perceived corruption and a rigid labor market still restrain Taiwan’s overall economic freedom,” the report said.
Published and compiled by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, the report has attracted global attention for more than 20 years.
The global average score for economic freedom is 60.4 out of 100, with Taiwan scoring above that figure with 75.1.
Among the 178 nations ranked, scores improved for 101 nations and declined for 73, while 90 nations were found to provide a moderate or better level of economic freedom.
The number of people living in economically “unfree” nations remains high — 4.5 billion, or 65 percent of the world’s population. More than half of them live in just two countries, China and India.
“The fundamental relationship between economic freedom and prosperity is readily apparent worldwide,” the report said. “No matter the region, per capita income levels are consistently higher in countries that are economically freer.”
Hong Kong and Singapore were ranked first and second respectively for the 21st consecutive year, followed by New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland.
The index evaluates nations in four broad policy areas: Rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets.
There are 10 specific categories: Property rights, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, government spending, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom.
In Taiwan, connections remain between politics and big business, and corruption is still a problem, the report said.
“Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property,” the report said.
“In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume and invest in any way they please,” it added.
Prudent macroeconomic policy within a stable legal and monetary environment has been key to rising levels of economic freedom in Taiwan over the past five years, the report said.
“Commitment to structural reforms and openness to global commerce have enabled Taiwan to advance far into the ‘mostly free’ category,” it said. “Taiwan’s export-driven, dynamic economy benefits from a well-functioning legal framework and a tradition of private-sector entrepreneurship.”
“The efficient business environment is facilitated by a competitively low corporate tax rate and the elimination of minimum capital requirements for incorporating a company,” the report said.