YEREVAN /ARKA/. Armenia ranked 47th in the Index of Economic Freedom (2019), compiled by the Heritage Foundation having moved to the group of “relatively free” countries.
Opposed to the previous ranking, when it was 44th among 180 nations, Armenia’s current standing has worsened. In the 2017 ranking, Armenia rose by 21 positions and ranked 33rd moving from the category of ‘moderately free’ countries to the category of ‘mostly free’. In the 2016 ranking, Armenia was 54th among 178 states, and a year earlier it occupied 52nd place.
In the 2019 ranking, Armenia is located between Poland (46th place) and Belgium (48th place). In the latest ranking Armenia’s economic freedom score is 67.7, making its economy the 47th freest in the 2019 Index. Its overall score has decreased by 1.0 point, dragged down by a steep drop in fiscal health and lower scores on government integrity and judicial effectiveness. Armenia is ranked 24th among 44 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is slightly below the regional norm but well above the world average.
Countries that score less than 50 points are ranked as “absolutely non-free”, 50–60 points as “mostly not-free”, 60–70 points as “relatively free”, 70–80 points as “mostly free”, and over 80 points –as “free”.
According to the Heritage Foundation, despite the previous government’s efforts to improve the business environment through tax reform, reduce corruption in the customs and tax administrations, and increase the transparency of procurement processes, Armenia’s geographic isolation, narrow export base, and pervasive monopolies in important business sectors make it particularly vulnerable to deteriorations in global commodity markets. Nevertheless, modest diversification has produced greater economic dynamism, and a decade of strong economic growth has reduced poverty and unemployment. Cronyism and influence peddling remain concerns, and progress in tackling corruption has been limited.
Armenia’s neighbor Georgia is in the group of “mostly free” countries (16th). Of other former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan is 59th, Azerbaijan is 60th, Moldova is 97th, Russia is 98th, Belarus is 104th, Tajikistan is 122nd, Uzbekistan is 140th and Ukraine is 147th. Turkmenistan is 164th in the group of “absolutely unfree” states. The leaders of the Index are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, while Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea are outsiders.