YEREVAN (Armenpress)–A joint study by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation–a Washington-based conservative think tank–ranked 156 countries on ten different factors–including trade and monetary policy–government intervention in the economy–banking–and property rights. Armenia and six other states–including France–share the 45th place in the "2002 Index of Economic Freedom."
Neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan are in the 108th and 118th places respectively and are both considered "mostly unfree."
The report says Armenia has moved up in the WSJ/Heritage rankings in the past year because of a low inflation rate and major tax cuts since last December.
It stresses a "very low level of protectionism" in Armenia’s external trade–"low barriers" to foreign investment–a "minimal" state control of the banking system–and a "moderate level" of state intervention in the economy. "There are few official restrictions on foreign investment–and investors are welcome in most industries," it says.
The WSJ/Heritage report says regional instability is among the main factors that "really deter foreign investors" from coming to Armenia in larger numbers. It also argues that "the lack of trade with neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan because of the ongoing dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh has inhibited the benefits that Armenia’s relatively open trade regime otherwise could be expected to provide."