The latest annual index of economic freedom ranks Hong Kong and Singapore on top for the 14th consecutive time. VOA's Barry Wood reports the Heritage Foundation survey shows economic freedom has improved slightly in the last year.
There is little change from the previous year, with four Asia Pacific economies and three from Europe placed in the top 10. The United States ranked fifth behind Australia and Ireland. Chile ranked eighth.
The index measures economic freedom in 10 categories that include property rights, freedom from corruption, labor, business and regulatory freedom. The 157 countries rated in the Heritage Foundation's index received on average 60 out of 100 possible points, and the overall index improved 2.6 percent since it was first issued in 1995.
The Heritage Foundation is an independent, right-of-center oriented research organization in Washington.
Egypt was ranked the most improved at number 85. Bahrain was judged the freest Arab economy at number 19 and Mauritius the freest in Africa at number 18. Anthony Kim, the Heritage Foundation economist responsible for the survey, says post-communist countries are making substantial progress. "We have Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia - these countries have really been pursuing good reforms in terms of taxation and cutting their regulatory burden. So they're making progress," he said.
Kim says China and Vietnam are beginning to make significant progress in economic freedom but neither is among the 100 freest economies.