Bahrain has been ranked as the 16th freest economy in the world and most free in the Middle East and North Africa region in the annual Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal.
Bahrain was the only Middle Eastern country to be ranked amongst the top 20 freest economies in the world and has been ranked No.1 in the GCC for 15 years, since the launch of the Index in 1995.
Bahrain’s ranking of 16th was an improvement on its 2008 ranking of 19th. With an average total score of 74.8%, Bahrain’s position in the top 20 puts it alongside Switzerland (9th), United Kingdom (10th) and Japan (19th) and ahead of Germany (25th), Spain (29th) and France (64th).
The Index of Economic Freedom 2009 ranked 179 countries across 10 areas of economic freedom - business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labour freedom. An overall average was then calculated from these scores.
Bahrain again scored highly in the business freedom, trade freedom and fiscal freedom categories and made a significant improvement in the area of labour freedom, improving its score from 40 in 2008 to 85.1 in 2009. Bahrain scored well above the global average in a total of 9 out of 10 of the areas measured and equal to the average in the tenth.
Annual analysis that accompanies the publication of the Index confirms the tangible benefits of living in freer societies. Higher levels of economic freedom are associated with a higher level of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP growth rates also increase as a country’s economic freedom score improves.
Shaikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “Bahrain’s ranking is further endorsement of our strong pro-business environment from highly regarded institutions such as the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
“Economic freedom is more important than ever for businesses during these difficult times. And for Bahrain it supports growth and contributes to long term stability. The results of this year’s Index further demonstrate Bahrain’s status as a location from which international companies can access markets across the Gulf. This position is reinforced by Bahrain’s strong business track record and experience, fair and effective regulation, well developed infrastructure, our educated, skilled work force and open, hospitable and tolerant environment.”