Bahrain ‘most economically free in Mena region’

MANAMA: Bahrain is the most economically free nation in the Middle East and North Africa region, and the seventh freest economy in the world.

This was revealed in the Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report, published by the Fraser Institute, a leading international think-tank.

The index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. Bahrain achieved an overall score of 7.94 out of 10, marking it ahead of the US and Japan.

The other top 10 nations are: Hong Kong, 8.90; Singapore, 8.69; New Zealand, 8.36; Switzerland, 8.24; Australia, 7.97; Canada, 7.97; Mauritius, 7.90; Finland, 7.88; and Chile, 7.84. Bahrain led the rankings in the GCC, followed by the UAE, 7.83; Qatar, 7.70; Kuwait, 7.66; Oman, 7.64; and Saudi Arabia, 7.06.

“Bahrain’s consistent ranking in first place among other Gulf countries reflects the success of its economic reforms to improve prosperity and job creation,” Transportation Minister and Economic Development Board acting chief executive Kamal Ahmed said.

“The fact that this progress has also been translated into economic growth, shows our tried and tested regulatory environment and commitment to international standards. It offers an attractive business environment, particularly for companies looking to access the growing GCC market, which is worth well over a trillion dollars,” he added.

Other recent reports have also highlighted Bahrain’s economic strengths.

Earlier this year, Bahrain was ranked first in the Middle East and 12th place worldwide in the 2012 Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Index.

The Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report is the premier measurement of economic freedom, using 42 distinct variables to create an index ranking of countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom.

The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property.

Economic freedom is measured in five different areas: size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labour, and business.

gulf-daily-news, September 20, 2012