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Bahrain Is 'Most Economically Free' Country In MENA

by Lorys Charalambous, Lowtax.net, Cyprus
24 January, 2014

Bahrain has once again been ranked as the most "economically free" country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by the Annual Index of Economic Freedom published by The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

The index rates countries according to four broad areas of economic freedom, namely rule of law; regulatory efficiency; limited government; and open markets. The 178 countries covered by the index are classified as "free", "mostly free", "moderately free", "mostly unfree", or "repressed."

Bahrain ranked 13th globally in the index, between the United States and the United Kingdom. It was the only MENA country to feature in the top 20.

The report said that Bahrain has improved its rating in a number of areas since the index was launched 20 years ago, especially in the areas of financial freedom, investment freedom and labor freedom. It points out that the Kingdom "continues to be a financial hub for dynamic economic activity, with high levels of trade and investment bolstered by a competitive and efficient regulatory environment."

The report highlighted the fact that there is no personal tax in Bahrain and most businesses are exempt from taxation. It also pointed out that the country has a low average tariff rate and relatively few non-tariff barriers, and that the cost of starting a business there is less than one percent of the average annual income.

However, the MENA region overall did not fare so well on the index, with most of its economies being classified as "moderately free" or "mostly unfree."

According to the report 114 countries improved their scores in this year's index, while 59 declined and four remained the same.

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