BY CHRONICLE STAFF
Economic freedom in
"The lack—and in some cases, erosion—of economic freedom in the Americas reflects reversals of free-market policies and a failure by some governments to persevere in pursuing economic freedom," say the editors of the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, which was released today.
11 of 20 Latin American nations surveyed saw a decline in their scores compared to the 2007 index, according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of the data.
Corruption, inflation and weak property rights are the major trouble areas for regional economies, they say. "The recent rise of populists like Evo Morales and Hugo Chávez threatens to widen the freedom gap in the
Measured by trade groups, CAFTA is the freest and ALBA the most repressed, a Latin Business Chronicle analysis shows. CAFTA's average score was 62.72 points. Mercosur had the second-best result, with an average score of 61.13 points. The Andean Community followed, with 58.22 points. ALBA had 48.78 points. However, within ALBA there are big differences, with
Among nations that saw declining economic freedom were
And - despite increased moves curtailing private enterprise -
"The typical ...Central/South American nation stands out positively in terms of limited government taxation and expenditures, as well as strong labor freedoms. The other five freedoms are also slightly stronger in the
"The court system is inefficient, and red tape is common," the report says. "The government can expropriate property arbitrarily. Most confiscated property has been used for infrastructure or commercial development. Although the government has slowly improved its patent and trademark laws, the enforcement of intellectual property rights remains poor."
And corruption is perceived as significant, it points out. "Official corruption is pervasive," it says. "Despite recent reforms, Dominican and foreign business leaders complain that judicial and administrative corruption affects the settlement of business disputes."
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