Israel advanced eight places in the IMD business school's ranking of economic freedom during the past year, to No. 25 among the nations rated, up from No. 33.

The 2005 edition of the World Competitiveness Yearbook, published by the well-respected school located outside of Geneva, ranks 60 countries and regions.

Israel is No. 18, up two places, on the economic ranking list for countries with less than 20 million inhabitants.

The school's World Competitiveness Center rates economies based on data gathered from a number of bodies, including chambers of commerce. The survey evaluates countries' performances according to four parameters: economic efficiency, administration, business and infrastructure.

The United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Iceland and Canada lead the 2005 list.

Venezuela, Indonesia, Argentina and Poland came in at the the bottom.

There were several bright points for Israel in the report, such as a No. 1 ranking for research and development as a percentage of GNP and No. 2 for entrepreneurship and education.

Israel lost its No. 1 ranking for the number of cell phones per person.

On the negative side, Israel was No. 55 in both work force participation and corporate tax rates. Israel was No. 54 in strikes and labor sanctions.

Israel was ranked No. 38 in economic performance, up 13 places from 2004. In administrative efficiency Israel rose to No. 29, up from No. 46 a year ago.

Israel was ranked No. 21 for business efficiency, up 7 places, and No. 19 for infrastructure, unchanged.

Israel was only No. 30 for real GDP growth, and No. 31 for GDP per capita.

Uriel Lynn, president of the Israel Chamber of Commerce, who participated in the IMD survey, said, "We should be proud of this achievement. The public is not interested in the infighting between cabinet members and the thrusts between the ministers. It wants to see them doing their job, to advance the Israeli economy."