New Zealand Dethrones Singapore as Easiest Place to Do Businessby
Singapore slips to second after 10 years atop World Bank ranks
Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa improving but still ranked low
New Zealand has overtaken Singapore as the best country in the world to do business, according to the World Bank.
Singapore slipped to second in the bank’s 2017 “Doing Business” report after topping the ranking for a decade. Finland dropped out of the top 10, falling to 13th. Macedonia, which placed 92nd a decade ago, improved two spots from a year earlier to No. 10.
The report ranks countries based on 11 sets of indicators such as the ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, accessing electricity and obtaining credit. For the first time, the Washington-based development lender took gender factors into consideration in assessing how easy it is to start a business, register property and enforce contracts.
The methods used to create the rankings have faced criticism. An independent panel appointed by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim found it used a narrow source of information and had the potential to be misinterpreted, according to a 2013 report. The rankings shouldn’t be used to apply a one-size-fits-all template for development, the panel found.
New Zealand, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the developed world, leads the rankings with the fewest number of procedures to start a business and the shortest time to fulfill them, along with strong legal rights, the bank said.
Brunei Darussalam, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Belarus and Indonesia made the biggest strides in business-friendly reforms. The U.S. dropped to the eighth spot from seventh, while Japan retained its 34th place and China rose to 78th from 84th. India’s ranking was unchanged at 130th.
Sub-Saharan African nations continued to have the lowest average score on pro-business regulations, the bank said. Still, countries in that region are improving their scores at a rate almost three times faster than OECD high-income countries, it said.
“A growing body of literature shows that government action to create a sound, predictable regulatory environment is central to whether or not economies perform well and whether that performance is sustainable in the long run,” World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer said in the report.
War-torn Somalia, a new addition to the rankings this year, was the worst-performer, behind Eritrea, Libya, Venezuela and South Sudan.