"Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself."
The Heritage foundation has come out with their ratings of countries based on economic freedom. As the world appears to be in an real economic mess maintaining freedom will become even more challenging in the years ahead. Although Panama may seem somewhat economically free, they rank pretty far down the list at 64.9 right in the moderately free zone. Costa Rica ranked at 67.3, but if you were to ask me where I would prefer to do business, I would take Panama over Costa Rica, as I have have worked in both countries. So, what are the criteria and why such a poor showing for a country that wants to emulate Singapor, listed at number two? You can go to a visualization chart where you can put in three countries and campare them in all of these catagories as I did wiuth Singapor, Panama and Costa Rica.
Here is how they faired. Singapor was way above in all catagories except financial freedom.
Investment freedom-Costa Rica
Financial freedom-Panama even better than Singapor
Property rights=C R way above Panama
Freedom from Corruption-CR way above Panama
Labor freedom-CR way above Panama
So we see that Panama is weak where we all know about and harp on year after year. Rule of law (property rights and corruption) and labor laws. If these things were changed Panama would rank way better than Costa Rica and in fact could get up into the 30's ranking.
To see the results of this years rating go here.