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Taiwan ranks 17th in economic freedom

TAIPEI -- Taiwan had a good showing in this year's Index of Economic Freedom, ranking 17th worldwide and fifth in the Asia-Pacific with a score of 73.9 on the index, published by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

Taiwan's overall score was up 1.2 points from last year's ranking at 20th in the world. The biggest improvements were in the sub-indexes of financial freedom which was up 10 points to a score of 60 on the 100-point scale, and investment freedom which rose 5 points to a score of 70.

Rankings slid noticeably however in the freedom from corruption category, down 1.3 points to 59.7; in monetary freedom, down 1.2 to 81.7; and in business freedom, down 0.4 points to 93.9.

The report, released Monday, praised Taiwan for continuous advancements in economic freedom since 2009 and a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure in the private sector.

Competitive corporate tax rates and the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises in creating a dynamic economy were also singled out. State involvement in the economy was described as “considerable,” though the report gave the government credit for controlling its spending.

Terry Miller, director of the Center for International Trade and Economics and one of the report's authors, pointed out that Taiwan, located in a highly competitive region, has continued promoting economic freedom by promising legal reforms and opening the investment market.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong came in first place followed by Singapore, with scores of 90.1 and 89.4 respectively. The two have ranked at the top of the world for the 20 years since the index was started.

Australia was third in the region with a score of 82, followed by New Zealand at 81.2.

Taiwan outpaced Japan's 72.4 points (25th in the world), Macau's score of 71.3 (29th in the world) and South Korea's score of 71.2 (31st in the world).

Among the 178 economies ranked, the United States (75.5) took 12th place with a score of 75.5. North Korea came in last with a score of just 1.0 — 0.5 points lower than last year.

The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal measured economic freedom across the world based on four categories: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets.

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