Bahrain tops MidEast rankings for economic freedom

Gulf kingdom is ranked 13th in 2014 Index of Economic Freedom; all Gulf states rated above average
Bahrain tops MidEast rankings for economic freedom
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 18 Jan 2014 03:45 AM

Bahrain has been ranked the leading Gulf state for economic freedom, narrowly missing out on a place in the global top 10 positions.

Bahrain was placed 13th in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom which was topped by Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia and covered a total of 178 countries.

The index, produced by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, rates countries according to their commitment to the rule of law, principles of limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets.

Gulf countries had mixed results with the UAE named the second best ranked country in the region, placed 28th.

Qatar was ranked 30th while Oman was placed in 48th position with Kuwait 76th and Saudi Arabia 77th.

The report said that Bahrain “continues to be a financial hub of dynamic economic activity, with high levels of trade and investment bolstered by a competitive and efficient regulatory environment”.

Kamal bin Ahmed, minister of transportation and acting chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “We are delighted that Bahrain’s efforts to improve economic freedom and the Kingdom’s strong economic fundamentals have again been recognised in the Index of Economic Freedom.

"Bahrain’s leading position and consistent high ranking over the past 20 years is a reflection of efforts to ensure we provide investors with the free and open business environment they need, so we can continue to deliver sustainable growth for Bahrainis.”

The 2014 index shows global economic freedom continues to rise, reaching a record average score of 60.3. All Gulf states scored higher than average.

The United States - known as the land of the free - fell out of the index top 10 to 12th. Its decline was "primarily due to deteriorations in property rights, fiscal freedom and business freedom", the report said.

The index was propped up by North Korea, Cuba and Zimbabwe.

The report evaluated countries based on a range of parameters including their fiscal health, the size of government, and regulatory efficiency.

Economic freedom is achieved by minimum government intervention in labour, capital and goods in the market, according to the report.

In November, a similar index published by the Fraser institute named Bahrain, Jordan and the UAE as the most economically free nations in the Arab world.

All three countries posted scores of 8 to top the regional list. For Bahrain and the UAE, the score represented a slight decrease from their 8.1 scores that topped last year's report. Jordan, which ranked second last year, maintained its 8 score.

Among the other Gulf nations, Kuwait was ranked fourth (7.8) while Oman and Qatar were joint sixth (7.6) and Saudi Arabia eighth (7.4).

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