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Doing Business Getting Easier Around the World

Mark Marich

Each year, the IFC and World Bank Group release their ‘Doing Business’ report that analyzes regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses throughout their lifespan—from startup to bankruptcy. The 2012 study is out and shows little movement among the leading economies. Singapore stays on top, followed again by Hong Kong (SAR, China), New Zealand, the United States and Denmark.

The consistency in rankings is not due to a lack of reform efforts, however. According to the report, Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World, 125 economies (out of 183 measured) implemented 245 reforms—an increase of 13% from the previous year. The 12 economies that have improved the ease of doing business the most across several areas of regulation as measured by the report are Morocco, Moldova, Macedonia (FYROM), São Tomé and Príncipe, Latvia, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, Burundi, the Solomon Islands, the Republic of Korea, Armenia, and Colombia. Most are low- or lower-middle-income economies while Korea was the lone newcomer in the top 10.

Other key findings:

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa 36 of 46 governments improved their economy’s regulatory environment for domestic businesses in 2010/11—a record number since 2005. This is good news for entrepreneurs in the region, where starting and running a business is still costlier and more complex than in any other region of the world.
  • Against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis, more economies strengthened their insolvency regime in 2010/11 than in any previous year. Twenty-nine economies implemented insolvency reforms, up from 16 the previous year and 18 the year before. Most were OECD high-income economies or in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Over the past six years, 94% of the economies covered have made their regulatory environment more business-friendly. China, India, and the Russian Federation are among the 30 economies that have improved the most over time.

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