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Aruba, January 14, 2014 - On a worldwide basis, the advance of economic freedom has ground to a halt. Since peaking in 2008, when the average economic freedom score reached 60.2 on the Index 0–100 scale, global economic freedom has failed to advance, and this year’s average score of 59.6 is no better than the score achieved a full decade ago in 2003.
Still, there are bright spots around the world:
·Four Asia–Pacific economies and Switzerland earned designation as truly “free” economies in the 2013 Index. Each achieved a score above 80 on the grading scale. Hong Kong was able to hold its position as the world’s freest economy, a position it has held for 19 consecutive years. With another strong advance in economic freedom, Singapore remains a close second and has narrowed the gap between it and Hong Kong. Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland maintained their previous standings of 3rd, 4th, and 5th, respectively. The relative strength of these five free economies is no accident. Their continuing commitment to rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets has been the source of impressive resilience during uncertain economic times.
·Seven emerging economies and one advanced economy joined those considered “mostly free” in the 2013 Index, raising the number of countries in that category to 30. The eight countries are Georgia, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Botswana, Norway, Jordan, South Korea, and the Bahamas. Notably, in the 2013 Index, Jordan became a “mostly free” economy for the first time, and Georgia recorded the largest score improvement over the past year.
·The scores of 91 countries improved, and 24 recorded their highest scores ever in the Index.Of the 91 economies that recorded score gains, 71 are considered developing or emerging economies. Of those developing economies, 23 come from the Sub-Saharan Africa region, 16 are from Europe, and 15 are from the Asia–Pacific region.
·Five emerging economies have recorded notable increases in economic freedom over the past five years, maintaining high economic growth rates despite the difficult international economic environment. The five countries are Colombia, Indonesia, Jordan, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates. With a five-year cumulative score increase of 3.5 points or more, each of these countries has achieved five consecutive years of improving economic freedom since 2008 and turned the global economic crisis into an opportunity to upgrade its economic system.
·Every region continues to be represented by at least one of the top 20 freest economies, but some notable reshuffling has occurred in the 2013 Index. Half of the leading economies are in Europe, led by Switzerland and Denmark. The Danish economy has climbed to the 9th spot, overtaking the United States and Ireland. Losing its status of one of the world’s 10 freest economies, Ireland has fallen to 11th place. Germany and Sweden have replaced Macau and Cyprus in the top 20. Five top performers are in the Asia–Pacific region, with Taiwan, just squeaking in at number 20, joining world leaders Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada and the U.S. represent North America. The other regions are represented by one country each: Chile (South and Central America/Caribbean region); Mauritius (Sub-Saharan Africa region); and Bahrain (Middle East and North Africa region).