Hong Kong still leads the world in economic freedom ahead of Singapore, according to the Heritage Foundation's index. The territory has now topped the index for 23 years in a row.
Heritage Foundation's 2017 Index of Economic Freedom saw Hong Kong record an overall score of 89.8, up 1.2 from a year back. It had dropped over the previous two years.
The gap between the SAR and Singapore is also larger, with the city- state's score up 0.8 to 88.6. New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan ranked after Singapore, all of which saw their scores increase.
In the categories of fiscal health, trade freedom and financial freedom, Hong Kong also topped the world. It got a full score in the category of fiscal health.
Over a total of 12 categories, the SAR got scores of more than 90 in eight, including property rights, government spending, tax burden, business freedom and investment freedom. But the city saw its scores dip in terms of business freedom and government spending. Among all the categories, Hong Kong recorded the lowest score in terms of government integrity. That score, however, was six points higher than a year ago.
"The high-quality legal framework, which provides effective protection of property rights and strong support for the rule of law, continues to be a cornerstone of strength for this dynamic city," said the US think tank.
"There is little tolerance for corruption, and government integrity is buttressed by a high degree of transparency."
It added that regulatory efficiency and openness to global commerce strongly support entrepreneurial activity.
"The judiciary is independent, but Beijing reserves the right to make final interpretations of the Basic Law, effectively limiting the power of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal," said the Heritage Foundation.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo- po said the ranking is one more time a recognition of Hong Kong's efforts to maintain its free market.
He said the government would sustain a sound business operation environment, free trade, low tax, simple tax regime, and independent rule of law and judiciary.
The SAR would also enhance financial infrastructure and build closer economic cooperation with major trading partners for maintaining its advantage as a leading international city.
Meanwhile, China ranked 111 as a mostly unfree economy, with its overall score up 5.4 to 57.4.