Bahrain is the most economically free nation in the MENA region, and the seventh freest economy in the world, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report published this week by the Fraser Institute, a leading international think tank.
The index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. Bahrain achieved an overall score of 7.94 out of 10, marking it ahead of the United States and Japan. The other top 10 nations are: Hong Kong (8.90); Singapore (8.69); New Zealand (8.36); Switzerland (8.24); Australia (7.97); Canada (7.97); Mauritius (7.90); Finland, (7.88); and Chile (7.84).Bahrain led the rankings in the GCC, followed by the UAE (7.83); Qatar (7.70); Kuwait (7.66); Oman (7.64); and Saudi Arabia (7.06).Transportation Minister and Acting Chief Executive of the Economic Development Board Kamal Ahmed said: "Bahrain's consistent ranking in first place among other Gulf countries reflects the success of the Kingdom's decade of economic reforms to improve prosperity and job creation."The fact this progress has also been translated into economic growth, shows our tried and tested regulatory environment and commitment to international standards offer an attractive business environment, particularly for companies looking to access the growing GCC market, which is worth well over a trillion dollars," he added.
The Fraser Institute's annual Economic Freedom of the World report is the premier measurement of economic freedom, using 42 distinct variables to create an index ranking of countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom.
The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property. Economic freedom is measured in five different areas: (1) size of government, (2) legal structure and security of property rights, (3) access to sound money, (4) freedom to trade internationally, and (5) regulation of credit, labour, and business.