Hong Kong continues to be the No.1 economy in the Index of Economic Freedom for the year 2015. Its economic freedom score is 89.6. Its overall score has declined by 0.5 point since last year. This reflects a higher level of perceived corruption that outweighs small improvements in business freedom, labour freedom, and fiscal freedom.
Hong Kong, a global free port and financial hub, continues to thrive on the free flow of goods, services, and capital. As the economic and financial gateway to China, and with an efficient regulatory framework, low and simple taxation, and sophisticated capital markets, the territory continues to offer the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the mainland. An impressive level of resilience has enabled it to navigate global economic swings and domestic shocks.
However, the economy’s institutional uniqueness, enshrined in its exceptional commitment to economic freedom and a high degree of autonomy pledged by the mainland, has faded a bit. Although Hong Kong maintains the features of an economically free society, economic decision-making has become somewhat more bureaucratic and politicized, and the government’s administrative scope and reach have expanded. Recent political events appear to have undermined public trust and confidence in the administration.
Hong Kong became part of the People’s Republic of China in 1997, but under the “one country, two systems” agreement, China promised not to impose its socialist policies on Hong Kong and to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defence policy for 50 years.
For much of human history, most individuals have lacked economic freedom and opportunity, condemning them to poverty and deprivation.
Today, we live in the most prosperous time in human history. Poverty, sicknesses, and ignorance are receding throughout the world, due in large part to the advance of economic freedom. In 2015, the principles of economic freedom that have fueled this monumental progress are once again measured in the Index of Economic Freedom, an annual guide published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington's No. 1 think tank.
For over twenty years the Index has delivered thoughtful analysis in a clear, friendly, and straight-forward format. With new resources for users and a website tailored for research and education, the Index of Economic Freedom is poised to help readers track over two decades of the advancement in economic freedom, prosperity, and opportunity and promote these ideas in their homes, schools, and communities.
The Index covers 10 freedoms – from property rights to entrepreneurship – in 186 countries.