The Sultanate has a strong regulatory record and ranked second in the world with a score of 8.8 out of 10 in the recent Economic Freedom Index report by Canadian conservative think tank Fraser Institute.
In the regulations category, Brunei scored 8.8 and ranked fourth globally for labor market regulation and eighth for business regulation (8.2).
Globally, the Sultanate ranked 59th out of 165 economies in the index based on 2020 data, the most recent available.
However, the Sultanate’s economic freedom ranking fell seven places from the 2019 index, amid lower scores for the freedom to trade internationally.
Compared to 2019, the Sultanate performed well in terms of legal system and property rights, sound money, but maintained its score in terms of government size and regulation.
Among Southeast Asian neighbors, Singapore ranks second, Malaysia (49th), Brunei (59th), Cambodia (63rd), Philippines (66th), Thailand (86th), Vietnam (113th ) and Myanmar (137th).
The report measures economic freedom – the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions – by analyzing the policies and institutions of 165 countries and territories. Indicators include regulation, freedom to trade internationally, size of government, property rights, government spending and taxation.
The pandemic had an effect, with 146 countries and territories experiencing a decline in economic freedom after governments around the world imposed COVID restrictions in 2020 (again, the latest year of available data).
“While the report does not take a position on the merits of public health measures, there is no doubt that government policies in the first year of the pandemic have reduced economic freedom,” said Fred McMahon, holder of the Dr. Michael A Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute. .
Once again, Hong Kong takes first place, followed by Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, United States (US), Estonia , Mauritius and Ireland.
“Hong Kong remains the most economically free jurisdiction in the world, but this ranking is based on 2020 data,” McMahon said.
The ranking of other major countries includes Japan (12th), Germany (24th), Italy (43rd), France (54th), Mexico (65th), India (90th), Russia (94th ), Brazil (114th) and China (116th). ).
People living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil freedoms, and longer lives. For example, countries in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $48,251 in 2020, compared to $6,542 for countries in the bottom quartile.
And poverty rates are lower. In the top quartile, 2.02% of the population lived in extreme poverty (USD 1.90 per day) compared to 31.45% in the bottom quartile.
Finally, life expectancy is 80.4 years in the upper quartile of countries against 66.0 years in the lower quartile. “Where people are free to pursue their own opportunities and make their own choices, they lead more prosperous, happier and healthier lives,” McMahon said.