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UAE scores high in economic freedom

The UAE banking sector, it said, "has weathered the global financial turmoil with little disruption". (EB FILE)

By Waheed Abbas

Economic freedom – ease of doing business – improved further in the UAE last year, as its overall score was higher than the global and regional averages, reflecting improved sentiments particularly in business freedom, investment freedom and property rights, said a survey.

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom published by Washington-based Heritage Found-ation and the Wall Street Journal has ranked the UAE as the 46th most economically free country, registering an increase of 2.6 points to 67.3 over the previous year. This follows a number of reforms that the UAE Government initiated in 2009.

The UAE also scored higher than some of the world's major countries such as France, Italy, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India and China. Ranked sixth in the Mena region, the UAE was 14th most improved economy in the 2010 Index. Bahrain came 13th globally, while Hong Kong maintained its No 1 ranking.

"Business formation has become more streamlined, and the overall entrepreneurial environment has been enhanced. The UAE has encouraged the development of a more dynamic private sector by eliminating minimum capital requirements and increasing the efficiency of the regulatory framework," said the survey.

The UAE banking sector, it said, "has weathered the global financial turmoil with little disruption".

"The UAE's modern financial sector has become more efficient and competitive in recent years. Financial supervision has been strengthened. Islamic banking is increasingly prominent. Capital markets are relatively well developed and the two stock markets have become more open to foreign investment," the survey said in the Financial Freedom sub-index.

The survey found that the overall freedom to start, operate, and close a business has improved as a result of recent regulatory reforms. Starting a business takes less than half the world average of 35 days. And obtaining a business licence takes much less than the world average of 218 days.

In the Labour Reforms category, it said employment regulations are relatively flexible in the UAE.


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