Hong Kong has been ranked as the world's freest economy for the 14th consecutive year by the Heritage Foundation in the foundation's 2008 Index of Economic Freedom study released on Tuesday, a press release from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said.
According to the study report, Hong Kong scores exceptionally well in almost all areas of economic freedom.
Among the 10 individual areas assessed, Hong Kong ranks first in trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom and property rights. Hong Kong also ranks in the top 10 in another four areas - fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom and labor freedom.
The report noted that Hong Kong's income and corporate tax rates were very competitive, and overall taxation was relatively small as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).
It also said that Hong Kong's business regulation was simple, the labor market was highly flexible, and investment in Hong Kong was strongly encouraged with virtually no restrictions on foreign capital.
The foundation also complimented Hong Kong as one of the world's leading financial centers, with its regulation of banking and financial services both non-intrusive and transparent. The study noted that property rights were protected by an independent and virtually corruption-free judiciary.
Compared to Singapore, Hong Kong fares better in regard to trade freedom, fiscal freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom, while Singapore fares better in business freedom, government size, monetary freedom, freedom from corruption and labor freedom. Both Hong Kong and Singapore are ranked first in property rights.
"We are determined to uphold Hong Kong's position as the freest economy in the world," Hong Kong Financial Secretary John C Tsang said while welcoming the study report.
"We see the role of the HKSAR government as that of a facilitator. We provide a business-friendly environment where all firms can compete on a level-playing field and establish an appropriate regulatory regime to ensure the integrity and smooth functioning of a free market," Tsang said.
The study measured the degree of economic freedom of 157 economies worldwide by assessing 10 factors: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption, labor freedom. Hong Kong retained its position as the freest economy in the world, followed by Singapore and Ireland.