Hong Kong beat rivals Singapore and Australia to be rated the world’s freest economy for a straight seventeenth consecutive year, according to a ranking by US-based Heritage Foundation.

Washington-based Heritage Foundation, which assessed 183 economies in the world, said in its 2011 Index of Economic Freedom report released on Wednesday that Hong Kong with a score of 89.7 is way above the world average of 59.7.

The report said Hong Kong demonstrated a high degree of resilience during the global financial crisis with freedom in trade and finance being the biggest boost to Hong Kong’s rating.

Hong Kong, which is one of the world’s most competitive financial and business centers, scored highly in investment freedom and property rights, business and monetary freedom, said the report.

While mainland China was ranked 135th, policy responses to the global economic turmoil contributed to the fall in United States’ ranking to the ninth place from eighth last year and United Kingdom to 16th place from 11th in 2010.

While nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, Liechtenstein and Sudan were unranked, North Korea was ranked 179th at the bottom of the list with a score of 1.0 followed by Zimbabwe in 178th position.

Singapore was ranked second with a score of 87.2 to be followed by Australia with a score of 82.5. New Zealand with a score of 82.3 was ranked fourth, Switzerland fifth with a score of 81.9, Canada sixth with 80.8, Ireland seventh with 78.7, Denmark eighth with 78.6, US ninth with 77.8 and Bahrain was ranked tenth with a score of 77.7.

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