Kazakhstan ranks highest in region for economic freedom

October 18. Central Asia newswire

Kazakhstan ranks highest in region for economic freedomKazakhstan ranks highest in the region for economic freedom or, more specifically, the ability of citizens and companies within a country to conduct economic activities unobstructed by the state, Kyrgyz news agency Kabar.kg reported on Friday.

Kazakhstan ranks 58th in the world for economic freedom in this year’s “Economic Freedom in the World Report 2010,” released last month.

The report’s ranking system takes into account the size of each country’s government, the country’s legal structure and its commitment to property rights, access to sound money, the freedom to trade internationally and the regulation of credit, labor and business.

Last year, the institute ranked Kazakhstan as 56th. Kazakhstan’s strengths lie in its access to funds and low-level regulation of credit, labor and business, Central Asian Free Market Institute (CAFMI) Executive Director Mirsulzhan Namazaliev told Kabar.kg on Friday. CAFMI assisted the Fraser Institute with the report.

“The commitment of economic freedom is a common theme among the most prosperous countries in the world,” Namazaliev said. “Kazakhstan has the highest level of economic freedom in Central Asia and even among the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] member states.”

Many countries experienced a decline in rankings due to the global recession, said the head of research at (CAFMI) Seyitbek Usmanov.

“The reason is that, in response to the downturn of 2008, many states chose deficit-spending and increasing government regulation rather than economic freedom and future growth,” Kabar.kg reported Usmanov as saying on Friday.

Kyrgyzstan ranks 62th, the report said. Kyrgyzstan’s strengths are its limited governmental regulation and the small size of government spending in comparison to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, the weakness of legal structures and property rights continue to impede the Kyrgyz economy, Usmanov said in a CAFMI press release on Friday.

“Given the substantial costs of unemployment and the enormous number of jobless people worldwide, Kyrgyzstan’s new government should consider increasing economic freedom as a means of reducing unemployment and easing social tension,” Usmanov added.

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan both ranked higher than Russia, which placed 84thfor economic freedom. Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were not ranked in the survey.