Hong Kong took the top place in the ranking of the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom for the 24th consecutive year, according to a report issued by the U.S. Heritage Foundation here on Friday.
On a scale of 0 to 100, Hong Kong's overall score improved by 0.4 point to 90.2 compared to last year, making Hong Kong the only economy with an overall score above 90, according to this year's Index of Economic Freedom report released by the Washington-based think tank.
Singapore remained the second with its overall score at 88.8 this year, up 0.2 point from a year earlier, and New Zealand ranked the third with its overall score at 84.2, up 0.5 point from a year earlier.
Among the 12 components measured in the report, Hong Kong achieved high scores of 90 or above in eight, and obtained top scores in fiscal health, business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom.
The foundation recognized Hong Kong's economic resilience, high-quality legal framework, low tolerance for corruption, high degree of government transparency, efficient regulatory framework and openness to global commerce.
An exceptionally competitive financial and business hub, Hong Kong remains one of the world's most resilient economies, and a high-quality legal framework provides effective protection of property rights and strongly supports the rule of law, the report said.
In Hong Kong, there is little tolerance for corruption, and a high degree of transparency enhances government integrity, and regulatory efficiency and openness to global commerce undergird a vibrant entrepreneurial climate, it said.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government welcomed the ranking.
The HKSAR government's Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the free market principles have long been the cornerstones of Hong Kong's economic prosperity and international competitiveness and Hong Kong's steadfast commitment in upholding the free market principles in Hong Kong is again affirmed internationally.
The government will strive to uphold Hong Kong's strengths, including the rule of law and judicial independence, a simple and low tax system, an open and free trade regime, a level-playing field for all businesses and an efficient public sector, he said.
Hong Kong has been ranked the world's freest economy every year since the index was first published in 1995.