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Poland holds steady in global economic freedom league


Poland climbed four places to be rated the 64th freest economy in the world (out of 179 countries covered) in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual ranking list by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation. The country's overall score rose by 0.1 points to 64.2, making it the 29th freest economy in Europe (out of 43). The result, which reflects a "moderate" level of economic freedom, is better than a world average of 59.5.

The slight improvement in Poland’s standing compared with the 2011 Index is largely thanks to its better score on freedom from corruption. The country also received higher scores for fiscal, labour and monetary freedom. However, the gains were nearly offset by a lower score on government spending, as well as on trade freedom.

According to the report’s authors, the Polish economy performs relatively well in many areas of economic freedom, with a transparent and efficient business climate, political stability, a dynamic environment for entrepreneurs, quite low barriers to free trade, regulations supporting open-market policies, and a positive attitude towards foreign investment. However, corruption and an inefficient judicial system vulnerable to political interference are seen as important institutional weaknesses holding back economic freedom and growth. The report also warns that the large fiscal deficits accumulated in recent years risk undermining the country’s long-term competitiveness.

As in previous editions of the Index, many other Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries came ahead of Poland. Two were rated "mostly free" (a score above 70 points), i.e. Estonia in 16th (73.2 points, down 2 points) and Lithuania in 23rd (71.5 points, up 0.2). As for other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic came 30th with a score of 69.9 points (down 0.5); Hungary 49th with 67.1 points (up 0.5); Slovakia 51st with 67 points (down 2.5); and Latvia 56th (65.2 points, down 0.6). Bulgaria and Romania were just ahead of Poland on 64.7 points and 64.4 points (down 0.2, down 0.3), respectively, giving then 61st and 62nd place.

Hong Kong maintained the top spot in the 2012 ranking, followed by Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The index ranks countries according to the level of freedom in 10 areas: business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government size, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labour freedom.

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