MANAMA: Bahrain and the UAE enjoy the highest levels of economic freedom among Arab nations, a specialised international economic report has revealed.
The annual Economic Freedom of the Arab World report is compiled by German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, the International Research Foundation of Oman and the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank.
Bahrain, which ranked first last year, improved its overall score to 8.1 out of 10 from eight. The UAE also scored 8.1, tying with Bahrain after ranking second overall in 2011 with a score of 7.9. Jordan moved into the third spot from eighth overall, improving its score to 7.9 from 7.4 last year, showed the report.
The Economic Freedom of the Arab World report compares and ranks Arab nations in five areas of economic freedom; size of government, including expenditures, taxes, and enterprises; commercial and economic law and security of property rights; access to sound money; freedom to trade internationally; and regulation of credit, labour and business.
Economic freedom is based on the cornerstones of personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property. Research shows that individuals living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of prosperity, greater individual freedoms, and longer life spans.
The report is based on data from 2010 (the most recent year available) but also examines more recent data to mark out trends for individual nations.
This is crucial since the key question in future years will be whether the changes underway result in greater economic freedom or whether economies in the region continue to stagnate.
Algeria, Mauritania and Syria were again found to have the least economic freedom among Arab nations. These bottom-ranked countries score, on average, two points behind the nations with the highest levels of economic freedom, with Algeria at 5.7, up from 5.5 last year; Mauritania unchanged at six; and Syria at 6.2, up from 5.9.
The report measures available data on economic freedom in 22 nations of the Arab League, but due to data limitations, calculations of the overall level of economic freedom are only available for 16 jurisdictions: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and the UAE. The rankings are entirely based on third-party data.
The report, which has been presented since 2005, is one of a number of regional reports based in part or in whole on the Fraser Institute's annual Economic Freedom of the World Report, which ranks the economic freedom levels of 144 countries.