MOSCOW (Armenpress)–This year’s Index of Economic Freedom published by the US Heritage Foundation research center and the Wall Street Journal list Armenia as the leading CIS country in terms of economic freedom.
To determine the level of economic freedom in each of the 161 countries included in the project–economic experts utilized 50 independent variable factors in the following areas: foreign trade policy; the tax burden; the level of government intervention in the economy; credit-monetary policy; the banking system; wage structure and property rights.
Armenia received an overall 44th ranking–the highest among CIS country–adding it to the "mainly free" category. The international economic experts–above all–pointed to the fact that import tariffs averaged 1.8%–while many goods were not subject to quotas or licenses. Compared to 2001–Armenia has managed to lower its tax burden–with the highest tax bracket standing at 20%.
Belarus received the worst rating for CIS countries from the 2003 Index of Economic Freedom in 151st place. Other country rankings are as follows: 1 Hong Kong–5 Ireland–6 United States–9 United Kingdom–11 Sweden–15 Switzerland–18 Canada–19 Belgium–19 Germany–27 Norway–56 Greece–104 Azerbaijan–119 Turkey.
An excerpt of 2003 report on Armenia reads:
Armenia’s economic growth has been strong since independence despite a lack of political stability–ongoing tensions with Azerbaijan and Turkey–and failure to reduce corruption and restructure the energy sector. . . .Armenia’s trade policies are among the most free trade-oriented in the Commonwealth of Independent States. In December 2001–Russia–Armenia’s largest bilateral creditor–accounting for 11 percent of the country’s total debt signed an agreement restructuring this debt in a debt-to-equity swap. Armenia’s accession to the Council of Europe in 2001 and the World Trade Organization in 2002 represent significant steps toward its integration into the global and European economic systems. Armenia’s wages and prices score is 1 point worse this year; however–its fiscal burden of government score is 0.5 point better–and its monetary policy score is 1 point better. As a result–Armenia’s overall score is 0.05 point better this year.
The Index of Economic Freedom is a practical reference guide to the world’s economies. It includes country-by-country analyses and the most up-to-date data available on foreign investment codes–taxes–tariffs–banking regulations–monetary policy–black markets–and more. This special on-line version allows you to search the data to find just the information you want.