Macau - Economic analysis of government's policies, investment climate and political risk.






MACAU [Macau Special Administrative Region of the Republic of China]: Economic Policy Analysis

This site presents an analysis of the Macau government's economic policies compared to a list of 34 economic policies as prepared by student Ms. Man I. Chiang with the McKeever Institute of Economic Policy Analysis (MIEPA) in the Fall of 2004. To read the analysis scroll through this site. To learn more about the background policies, click here

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Several foreign born students living in California have completed a study of their home country governments' economic policies as compared to the MIEPA list of policies as outlined above. The study on Macau is shown below. The ratings herein are based on the following rating scale:


5.0 Perfect Facilitation of Wealth Creation
4.0 Midway between Perfect and Neutral
3.0 Neutral Effect on Wealth Creation
2.0 Midway between Neutral and Obstructionist
1.0 Perfectly Obstructionist to Wealth Creation
[Rating scale copyright Mike P. McKeever, 1996. Used herein with permission]

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Comparison of Macau's economic policies to MIEPA criteria as prepared by native student of Macau, Ms. Man I. Chiang, studying in San Francisco in Fall 2004.



      1               4.5           13.5             15.0        90%

      2               4.5           13.5             15.0        90

      3               3.5           10.5             15.0        70

      4               5.0           15.0             15.0       100

      5               4.5           13.5             15.0        90

      6               3.8           11.4             15.0        76

      7               4.5           13.5             15.0        90

      8               3.8           11.4             15.0        76

      9               4.5           13.5             15.0        90

      10              5.0           15.0             15.0       100

      11              4.0           12.0             15.0        80

      12              4.0           12.0             15.0        80

      13              2.5            5.0             10.0        50

      14              4.5            9.0             10.0        90

      15              4.5            9.0             10.0        90

      16              4.0            8.0             10.0        80

      17              4.0            8.0             10.0        80

      18              3.5            7.0             10.0        70

      19              3.5            7.0             10.0        70

      20              4.0            8.0             10.0        80

      21              5.0           10.0             10.0       100

      22              4.5            9.0             10.0        90

      23              4.5            9.0             10.0        90

      24              3.5            7.0             10.0        70

      25              3.5            7.0             10.0        70

      26              4.5            9.0             10.0        90

      27              1.0            2.0             10.0        20

      28              4.0            8.0             10.0        80

      29              3.0            3.0              5.0        60

      30              2.0            2.0              5.0        40

      31              4.5            4.5              5.0        90

      32              3.5            3.5              5.0        70

      33              4.5            4.5              5.0        90

      34              4.5            4.5              5.0        90           

  TOTAL             134.6          298.8            375.0       79.7%
                    =====         ======           =====        =====
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1. Freedom from internal control: 4.5

Macau citizens are free to move around the country. Since Macau is a special administrative region (SAR) of China, Macau citizens need a permit to enter China mainland; however, it is very easy to get the permit and its valid period is 10 years. Similarly, they need a document to go to Hong Kong, another SAR of China, but it is convenient too. Also, people can leave Macau and travel to other countries as they want.

Work cited: Personal knowledge

2. Freedom of speech: 4.5

Macau residents have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration. Nevertheless, Macau people are not enthusiastic about expressing their own opinions. Also, major newspapers are somewhat biased.

Work cited: Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Macau: 2000.; Personal knowledge

3. Effective, fair police force: 3.5

Compared to other big cities, Macau is usually a quiet place. Before 1999, Macau once had a hard time. Gangs committed arsons and bomb attacks in order to scramble for power and challenge to the police, making Macau’s image discredited in neighbors. Comfortingly, public security in Macau has been improving following the handover to China and the coming of the new government. However, Macau residents do not rate the police very high. Quite a lot of people think that the police are not effective enough.

Work cited: Personal knowledge

4. Private property: 5.0

Macau is a capitalistic city that people have the right to own private property, including currency, cars, real estates, stocks and so on, and they are all well protected. Although Macau is part of China, it does not practice socialism – which is applied in China – because of the “one country, two systems” policy. The government cannot take people’s property away. Foreigners are also protected.

Work cited: Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Macau: 2000.; Personal knowledge

5. Commercial banks: 4.5

Commercial banks in Macau are dependable. They mainly operate deposit and loans, as well as foreign exchange, insurance, trust, stocks and bonds, lease, remittance, credit card service, and safe deposit box. Enterprises can easily borrow money from banks to develop their business, and people feel secure to deposit their property in banks.

Work cited: Encyclopedia of Macau. Macau: Macao Foundation, 1999.; Personal knowledge

6. Communication system: 3.8

People in Macau can access all kinds of communication – telephone (both fixed and mobile), television (broadcast and cable), radio, fax, newspapers and magazines, and internet – you name it. People can send and receive what they want to and from various places all over the world. Though there are different kinds of communication, there are few choices within each of them. We have only 1 fixed telephone service provider, which is also the only internet service provider; 3 mobile communication companies are competing. This situation makes the charges of telephone service keep high. Also, we have only 2 local TV stations: one wireless station and one cable station. Most Macau people prefer Hong Kong TV channels rather than local channels.

Work cited: Personal knowledge

7. Transportation: 4.5

Transportation within Macau is pretty convenient. Effective bus service is provided by two bus companies. Plenty of taxis are running all around the city, charging passengers reasonable fare. Macau International Airport commenced operation in 1995, connecting Macau with to several cities in Mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Southeast Asia. People can travel to several destinations on direct flights or catch connecting flights to different ports of Asia, Europe or America. If people want to take a non-stop flight that Macau does not have, helicopters can get them from Macau to Hong Kong in 20 minutes. They can also spend 1 hour taking the Hong Kong-Macau ferries, the most frequent ferry service in the world, which has a ferry set sail every 15 minutes.

Work cited: Macau. Macau Government Tourist Office.; Personal knowledge

8. Education: 3.8

Most children and teenagers in Macau can easily access to education. Although there is no rule to enforce school-age minors to enroll in school, 83.5% of schools in Macau attend the 10 years-free education scheme of the government, so most students can have education until junior high school. Moreover, the enrollment rate of secondary education was 87.5% in 2002/2003. There are 12 higher education institutions in Macau. Theoretically they can provide enough seats for the secondary school graduates every year. However, they are not renowned worldwide, and they provide very limited majors and courses. So it is very popular for secondary school graduates to go to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other foreign countries to continue their education.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Statistics and Census Service.; Personal knowledge

9. Social Mobility: 4.5

Generally, job seekers in Macau are competing fairly. Jobs in all public sectors are earned by ability. Moreover, the government provides or sponsors much training for job seekers and workers on service.

Work cited: Personal knowledge

10. Freedom from outside control: 5.0

Macau citizens are absolutely free from any kind of outside control.

Work cited: Personal knowledge

11. Foreign currency transactions: 2.5 The official currency in Macau is Pataca (MOP). However, Macau has a diverse currency situation because of her special political status and strong dependence on her foreign trade partners. By the decision of the Government the Pataca is linked to the Hong Kong dollar (HKD) which is accepted as currency in Macau. People can use Hong Kong dollar almost everywhere in Macau; ATMs offer both Pataca and Hong Kong dollar; and people can open a Hong Kong dollar account in any bank in Macau. Chinese Renminbi (RMB) and US dollar are also accepted in some transactions. Furthermore, buying and selling foreign currencies is a popular activity of Macau people.

Work cited: Siu, Ricardo Chi Sen. Diverse Monetary Theory. Macau: Macau Foundation, 1999.; Personal knowledge

12. Border control: 4.0

Macau consists of two islands and the Macau peninsula, which is connected with China mainland at the north. All foreigners, including people from China and Hong Kong, have to make entrance registrations with the customs when they enter Macau. Unfortunately, people entering Macau illegally is not a rare matter. Most of them come to get a job.

Work cited: Personal knowledge

13. Currency: 2.5

The Pataca (MOP) is Macau's official currency, and it is issued by two commercial banks. As mentioned above, Hong Kong dollar is also accepted in Macau. The value of the Hong Kong dollar is pegged at HK$7.8 to the US dollar, so Pataca is indirectly linked up with US dollar and 8 Patacas is roughly equivalent to 1 US dollar. Pataca's proportion in M2 is always smaller than the proportion of foreign currencies. Among these foreign currencies, Hong Kong dollar is the most important one. For example, in December 1997, the percentages of Pataca, Hong Kong dollar and other foreign currencies in M1 supply are 43.68%, 45.25% and 11.07%; the percentages in M2 supply are 30.86%, 53.09% and 16.05%. Actually, Hong Kong dollar is the leading currency in Macau¡¦s economic system.

Work cited: Siu, Ricardo Chi Sen. Diverse Monetary Theory. Macau: Macau Foundation, 1999.; Macau. Macau Government Tourist Office.

14. Cultural, Language homogeneity: 4.5

Macao has been one of the most important hubs for the Eastern and Western cultures for the last four centuries, leaving the modern Macao of today a unique heritage of cultural merge, reflected in its architectures, religious rituals, customs and cuisines. This special culture does not harm the homogeneity in Macau, but makes Macau an interesting place and helps attracting tourists. Languages spoken in Macau are not various. Both of Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages in Macao, but over 97% of Macao population use Chinese as their first language, and Portuguese is spoken by only 0.7%. The rest of population speaks English, Filipino and other languages. People in Macau communicate with each other well.

Work cited: Macau. Macau Government Website.

15. Political effectiveness: 4.5

Since Macau is such a small city (27.3km2, about the size as Berkeley, California), governmental administration in Macau works without regional difference. In addition, the government is doing pretty good. According to a survey in late 2001, 67% of the sample felt ¡§very satisfied/ satisfied with the policy of the Chief Executive¡¨; of the question ¡§how your support to the SAR govemment is¡¨, the mean was 71.14%, and the median is 70%.

Works cited: Macau 2002. Macau Foundation, 2002.

16. Institutional stability: 4.0

Overall, Macau is a stable society. Large institutions, such as power and water supply, communication, transportation, and education institutions have kept stable for decades. In 1999, Macau welcomed her most important change – Macau’s sovereignty returning to China. However, with China’s promise that “the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years” (BL Article 5), it does not make a negative impact on Macau. Many citizens even think that Macau is more thriving and more prosperous after the handover.

Work cited: Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Macau: 2000.>; Personal knowledge

17. Honest government: 4.0

According a survey in 2001, 74.5% of Macau people said that they trusted in Macau government. Another survey done in May 2004 showed that 76% of Macau citizens felt satisfied with the probity of Macau government. Only 1.8% of the interviewees said that they met corruption involved in the government departments.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Commission Against Corruption of Macau. Newsletter 2004 (Issue10). Macau: Commission Against Corruption of Macau. Jul 2004. ; Macau 2002. Macau: Macao Foundation, 2002.

18. Common laws: 3.5

By and large, all citizens are equal before the common laws in Macau. Although Macau was used to be colonized by Portuguese and the bases of many common laws are from Portugal, Portuguese did not enjoy any privilege even before the handover of Macau. Also, richness does not make any difference in treatment. However, some of the laws are not very effective, and some are not enforced practically.

Work cited: Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People' s Republic of China. Macau: 2000.>; Personal experience

19. Central bank: 3.5

Macau is a special administrative region of China, so she does not have a “real” central bank. However, The Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) plays the role of a quasi-central bank and the power to supervise the financial system of Macau. It was established in 1989 (its predecessor was established in 1980), with the functions of (1) advising and assisting the Chief Executive in formulating and applying monetary, financial, exchange rate and insurance policies; (2) guiding and coordinating the monetary, financial, foreign exchange and insurance markets; (3) issuing and monitoring the local currency; (4) a central monetary depository and manage the currency reserves. It can works quite effectively, but it is not really independent from political control because it is under the secretary of economy and finance.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Monetary Authority of Macau.

20. Domestic budget management: 4.0

Between 2000 and the second quarter of 2004, Macau mainly holds a domestic budget surplus. However, because of Asian financial crisis, the inflation rate of Macau dropped from 3.5% in 1997 to -3.2% in 1999, and the number of inflation rate had been keeping negative until this summer (Jun 2004).

Work cited: Macau SAR. Statistics and Census Service.; Macau SAR. Monetary Authority of Macau. Quarterly Report (Issue1). Macau: Monetary Authority of Macau. Oct 2001. >

21. Government debt: 5.0

Macau has a reliable amount of fiscal reserves and no government debts. At the end of 2003, the Reserve Fund reached MOP10.9 billion. Based on the debt-free government finance, large fiscal reserves and the promising prospect for the gaming industry, Moody¡¦s Investors Service raised Macau¡¦s credit rating for two times in 2003, first in February from Baa1 to A3, and later to A1 in October with a ¡§stable¡¨ outlook, which confirmed the solvency of Macau.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Monetary Authority of Macau. Annual Report for the Fiscal Year 2003. Macau: Monetary Authority of Macau, 2003.

22. Economic statistics: 4.5

Statistics and Census Service and Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) are the two official departments in Macau managing statistics. They work out economic, financial and monetary data of Macau on a regular time schedule, and release them through media, publications and Internet. Moreover, from 2002, Macau has begun to carry a column on the periodical ¡§IFS¡¨ of International Monetary Fund, issuing latest financial, monetary and macroeconomic data to the world.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Monetary Authority of Macau.; Macau SAR. Monetary Authority of Macau. Financial statement for the Fiscal Year 2002. Macau: Monetary Authority of Macau, 2002.

23. Protection of public health and safety: 4.5

Macau is a small city that it partly depends on medical resources of Hong Kong; even so, sanitation of Macau is satisfactory. For example, when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was raging at many close neighborhoods of Macau (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) in 2003, Macau kept a surprising record of having only one SARS patient. Macau is a member of World Health Organization (Western Pacific Region), and she is applying for the title of "Healthy City" of WHO. According to Dr. Linda Milan, a WHO official who visited Macau in 2003, ¡§the health situation in Macau is the best in Asia.¡¨

Work cited: Macau SAR. Government Information Bureau. Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2004. Macau: Government Information Bureau, 2003.; ¡§Macao boasts best health status in Asia: WHO official.¡¨ People¡¦s Daily 02 Dec. 2003.; Personal knowledge

24. High wage policies: 3.5

Wages in Macau are not very high, but enough for most of the general citizens to afford the living standard in Macau. The median monthly earnings of employed population in 2003 is MOP$4,801 (about USD$600), and the average monthly households income is MOP$ 15,304 (about USD$1,913). Macau has concluded 29 treaties of International Labour Organization. A shortcoming is that there is not a policy of minimum wage in Macau.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Statistics and Census Service.; Fao, Jorge. ¡§To Have More Treaties.¡¨ Macao Daily 31 Jul. 2002.>

25. Environmental protection: 3.5

There are not many industrial enterprises in Macau, so pollution is not serious. Macau government has set up the Environment Council in 1998. Also, Macau is now applying for the "Champions of the Earth" award of UN.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Government Information Bureau. Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2004. Macau: Government Information Bureau, 2003.; Personal knowledge

26. Strong Army: 4.5

Since Macau’s returning to China in 1999, China has sent a 1000-person troop to Macau. It is the youngest troop in People's Liberation Army (PLA). PLA is considered a strong army and gains people’s respect and admiration widely in the country. The eight-year of resistance against Japan (1937-1945) is one of the honorable achievements that Chinese always talk with pride. China’s military policy always focuses on defense rather than expansion. Hence, China’s national defense expenditure has been holding a small portion of the national expense for decades. In 1998-2001, the percentages of national defense out of total national expense are 8-9%, and the national defense in 2001 only occupies less than 2% of GDP. However, the total amount of national defense cost keeps rising in the last ten years. For example, the national defense expenditure will be raised 15-17% annually between 2001 and 2005.

Work cited: BBC online network. 6 Mar. 2002.; Takungpao (Ta Kung Newspaper). 6 Mar. 2002.; China Today. 1995-2004.>

27. Foreign trade impact: 1.0

Macau is such a small city that it depends on foreign trade very much. Foreign trade makes up an extremely large proportion of GDP. Macau’s economy is greatly influenced by China and Hong Kong (which have close relationship with Macau), also USA and EU (which are major export markets of Macau). Once these countries and territories have some alterations in politics and economics, Macau is more or less affected.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Statistics and Census Service.; Commentary on Macau’s Economy. Macao Foundation, 1994.>

28. Protection of foreign currency earning enterprises: 4.0

Tourism and gaming is the chief industry of Macau. It gains a huge amount of money. Therefore, the Macau government encourages this industry all the time. For example, when the casino monopoly expired in 2001, the government issued three franchises instead of one, hoping to attract foreign investment. Another example is that the government is working hard to discuss and sign agreements of flight with other countries, which can attract more tourists and make export processing more convenient. Overall, Macau government is doing quite well to protect and encourage foreign currency earning.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Statistics and Census Service.; Personal knowledge

29. Management of foreign currency budget: 3.0

From 1982 to 2003, net exports (exports minus imports) of Macau are all positive numbers. In 2003, the amount of exports of goods and services is 62,469.8 million MOP and the amount of imports is 36,279.0 million MOP. There is a surplus of 26,190.8 million MOP. However, if we only discuss exports and imports of goods but not services, the numbers are not so favorable. Between 1991 and 2003, there are nine years that a deficit happened, with only four years with a trade surplus.

Work cited: Macau SAR. Statistics and Census Service.

30. Layers of collective action: 2.0

Non-governmental organizations in Macau cover all kinds of citizens. Moreover, it is very easy to set up a legal organization in Macau. People are free to express their opinion, but they may not have the opportunity to strive for what they want. Any Macau citizen who reaches 18 years old can register to be a voter. Voters can elect 10 of the members of Legislative Assembly – the 10 other seats are resulted from indirect election, and the last 7 seats are designated by the chief executive. Actually, the chief executive himself is elected indirectly by 200 people out of 460,000 citizens in Macau (and again, those 200 people are indirectly elected). High officials, councilors and those who have more chances to participate in political events are always “royalist” businessmen. The so-called opposition party is very weak. In fact, not many Macau people are concerned with politics.

Work cited: Asia Times (Chinese). 10 Feb. 2004.; “Development of Macau Politics – From the 20th Century to the 21st Century”. Ng, Kuok Chang.; Personal knowledge

31. Pro business climate: 4.5

Macau government tries hard to encourage industrial and commercial activities. It always keeps a policy of simple tax regulations and low tax rates. Also, it has some laws and plans to help businesses. For example, private companies can get loan interest subsidies from the government, and there is a financial aid plan helping middle-sized and small-sized companies. Businessmen in Macau usually have high social status. Edmond Ho, the present chief executive of Macau, is an outstanding example. He is a banker, chairman of over ten enterprises, and leaders of many cultural, educational, sports and charitable organizations. In 2001, the 50-year monopoly of gaming industry in Macau ended. Three licenses were issued by the government, and two of them were gained by American companies. It greatly inspires people to have businesses in Macau.

Works cited: Macau SAR. Government official website.; Macau SAR. Economic Services.; Macau SAR. Government Printing Bureau.>

32. Government enterprises: 3.5

Some businesses in Macau have the patents based on the contracts with the government. Power, water, airport management, buses, communication and gaming businesses are franchised in Macau. Most of them can make a profit and do not need government’s aids; on the contrary, the patent taxes from these businesses, which makes up 40% of the government income, is the chief income of Macau government. The biggest part of theses patent taxes is gaming tax from casinos, lottery, horse racing and dog racing. However, the broadcast corporation of Macau (TDM) is an exception. TDM was a public utility when it was established in 1983, but it restructured to be a limited company in 1988 because of sustaining loss. In 2002, all the shareholders sold their shares back to the government, so TDM is now completely held by the government. TDM has been losing since it was established 20 years ago, and Macau citizens are always paying attention to how the government deals with this burden.

Works cited: Encyclopedia of Macau. Macau: Macao Foundation, 1999.; Macau 2003. Macau: Macao Foundation, 2003.

33. International security agreements: 4.5

Although Macau is a part of China, it may maintain and develop relations and conclude and implement agreements with foreign states and regions and relevant international organizations in the economic, trade, financial and monetary and shipping fields, by using the name "Macao, China". Macau is a separate customs territory which is independent from China. It participates in international organizations and international trade agreements, including preferential trade arrangements, such as WTO (Macau joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as a dependent member of Portugal in 1975, and became a formal contracting party of GATT in 1991) and arrangements regarding international trade in textiles.

Works cited: Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People' s Republic of China. Macau: 2000.; Encyclopedia of Macau. Macau: Macao Foundation, 1999.; United Daily News. 18 Oct. 2000.

34. Protection of domestic enterprises from government mandated costs: 4.5

Macau is a free port and does not impose tariffs (except the very low consumption tax on some specified items). However, it does not harm the domestic enterprises. Basically, companies in Macau only pay some basic taxes, and the tax rates are very low compared to the neighbors. They do not need to pay for environmental taxes or other special fees.

Works cited: Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People' s Republic of China. Macau: 2000.; Encyclopedia of Macau. Macau: Macao Foundation, 1999.>


All the information and conclusions in each country analysis are solely the responsibility of the individual student and have not been verified, corrected, checked for copyright infringement or evaluated in any way by MIEPA or Mike P. McKeever. You are solely responsible for the results of any use you make of the information and conclusions in these studies. Use them at your own risk as interesting supplemental information only instead of seasoned judgements about the policy factors contained herein. Each student has granted permission for his or her work to be displayed here under his or her own name or wishes to remain anonymous and have either created a pen name or used no name at all; if you wish to contact them for any reason, forward your request to MIEPA and the student will be notified of your interest.

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