Hong Kong has topped the world in economic freedom for the 19th consecutive year, according to the Heritage Foundation’s index announced on Thursday.
But the conservative American think tank warned that the city could lose the top spot it has occupied since the index started in 1995.
”Although Hong Kong remains No 1 in the index rankings, the uniqueness of its commitment to economic freedom has eroded in recent years, and any further implementation of populist policies that empower the bureaucracy or undermine the principle of limited government could threaten its standing in future,” it said.
The city’s score, the first announced during Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's term, has dropped 0.6 of a point from last year to 89.3, which the foundation attributed to increases in government spending relative to gross domestic product, and inflation.
Hong Kong is followed by Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Denmark and the US.
Taiwan stands at 20th and the mainland 136th.
Although Hong Kong tops the worldwide ratings in terms of financial and trade freedom, it came15th in terms of monetary freedon and 17th in terms of limited government, a category that includes fiscal freedom and government spending.
For the mainland, the foundation noted a 7.2 point-jump this year in terms of labour freedom, though it scored 2.6 points lower on monetary freedom.