Press Release


Hong Kong remains world's freest economy

Hong Kong has been ranked the freest economy in the world for the 10th consecutive year in the Heritage Foundation's 2004 Index of Economic Freedom.
Welcoming the news today (December 9), the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, said the government was firmly committed to maintaining Hong Kong as a free market economy that accords maximum scope to the private sector.
"We see the role of the government as a facilitator that provides a business-friendly environment where all firms can compete on a level playing field," he said.
"The government will also maintain an appropriate regulatory regime to ensure the integrity and smooth functioning of a free market."
As in previous years, the Index of Economic Freedom ratings reflect an analysis of 50 different economic variables, grouped into 10 categories encompassing banking and finance; capital flows and foreign investment; monetary policy; fiscal burden of government; trade policy; wages and prices; Government intervention in the economy; Property rights; Regulation; and informal, or black, market activity.
In 2003, 161 economies were rated one to five in each category, one being the best, five the worst. These ratings were then averaged to produce the overall Index score.

Hong Kong recorded an overall score of 1.34, which was an improvement over last year's winning score of 1.44. Singapore, in second place, scored 1.61, the same as a year ago. Third-ranked New Zealand scored 1.7.

Hong Kong's strengths included: 

*duty-free port;

*very low level of government involvement in business activities;

*very low inflation;

*very low barriers to foreign investment;

*very low level of restrictions in banking and finance;

*low level of intervention in wages and prices;

*strong property rights;

*very low level of regulation; and

*low level of informal market activity
"We will spare no effort in preserving our strengths and in further improving ourselves where we can," said Mr Tang.
The Index of Economic Freedom report said: "Once again, Hong Kong is the poster city for economic freedom, both in the region and around the world."

"With a duty-free port, Hong Kong is a model for free trade. It also is the world' 10th largest trading entity."

Ends/Friday, January 9, 2004

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