News 13 Jan 12

Serbia, Bosnia Rank Low on Economic Freedom Index

Serbia and Bosnia rank lowest among Balkan countries in economic freedom survey.

Marija Ristic

Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are marked as mostly unfree countries, together with states like Ethiopia, Azerbaijan and Russia in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, released on Thursday by the conservative U.S. think tank Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

The yearly ranking asesses each country's rule of law, size of government, regulatory measures, how open their market is, and other factors.

Bosnia has the lowest score in the region, ranking 104th out of 179 countries and 38th out of 43 European countries. According to the survey, Bosnia has “poor protection of property rights and widespread corruption which discourage entrepreneurial activity, while the rule of law is weak and subject to substantial political interference”.

Serbia comes in at number 98, with a score unchanged from last year, making it second in the region. Its unchanged score reflects modest improvements in trade and monetary freedom offset by losses in business freedom and the management of government spending, the survey found.

Other Balkan countries have been placed in a group of moderately free states, together with most European countries like France, Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia.

Macedonia has the best rank in region, coming in at 43th, almost 15 places ahead of the second place Balkan country, Albania.

The report finds that the government in Skopje has undertaken significant reforms in many sectors of the economy over the past few years, inspiring economic growth and the development of a thriving entrepreneurial sector. Compared to 2002, Macedonia improved its overall score by 10 points.

In Albania, meanwhile, the foundations of economic freedom are undermined by poor protection of property rights and pervasive corruption, placing it at 57th in the global index.

Romania has been ranked 62nd thanks to its openness and stability over the past decade, while Montenegro ranked 10 spots lower on the list.

Croatia fell from last year by one place, making it 83th state in the world.

Kosovo was not included in the survey.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland take the top five spots on the global index.

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