Bahrain tops Mena in economic freedom
Manama, January 14, 2013
Bahrain remains the Middle East North Africa (Mena) region’s most economically free country, according to the annual index of economic freedom published by The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.
Bahrain ranks top among 15 Mena countries. Overall, the kingdom is ranked 12th out of 177 economies worldwide, and is the only Mena country to rank in the top 20, said a statement from Bahrain’s Economic Development Board.
Bahrain’s economic freedom score of 75.5 showed year-on-year improvement and is well above the world average, it said.
The report highlights that the kingdom’s “transition to greater openness, diversification, and modernisation is based on strong foundations of economic freedom.”
It states that as a regional leader in economic freedom, Bahrain sets a critical example for other countries in the region.
According to the report, Bahrain has maintained above-average levels of economic freedom in almost every measure and remains a financial hub for 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 EDB, said: “We are delighted that Bahrain continues to hold a leading position in the Index of Economic Freedom. It is a reflection of Bahrain’s strong economic fundamentals, and that we are well positioned to maintain sustainable growth in the year ahead.”
The 2013 Index of Economic Freedom measures the level of economic freedom in 10 pillars: business, trade, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labour freedom.
The report has positive comments on Bahrain’s open market environment, stating that the kingdom has a low average tariff rate and relatively few non-tariff barriers, no restrictions on repatriation of profits or capital, no exchange controls, and no restrictions on converting or transferring funds, whether associated with an investment or not. It highlights Bahrain’s diverse and competitive financial sector which is a significant contributor to GDP, and foreign and domestic investors have access to modern financial services.
Bahrain’s ranking reflects the kingdom’s competitive advantage as a location for investment into the Gulf market, an economy now worth more than one trillion dollars, said the EDB. – TradeArabia News Service
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