New Zealand has come out on top again in the World Bank’s official rankings of the best place to do business, despite making no changes to its business practices over the last year.
The rankings are determined by how easy it is for someone to set up a business and keep it running, and Australia’s neighbor came out on top, fending off Singapore, Hong Kong and Denmark.
The Doing Business report takes 191 countries into account, so it gives a wide scope for comparison and shows how well-suited New Zealand has made itself in terms of accessibility.
There were also a few surprises on the list. Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, came in sixth on the list, three places ahead of the UK in ninth.
Other countries in the top 20 included Macedonia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Mauritius. All of these have been cited by Oxfam, the global poverty and equality charity, to have unequal economies, and it has sought to downplay the significance of the list.
Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said that there is a clear need for private sector investment to help in ‘creating sustainable economic growth and ending poverty around the world.’
Kim also hailed instances of ‘fair, efficient and transparent rules, which Doing Business promotes,’ calling it ‘the bedrock of a vibrant economy and entrepreneurship environment.’
He added: ‘It’s critical for governments to accelerate efforts to create the conditions for private enterprise to thrive and communities to prosper.’
The report said that for many countries to be able to move further ahead and help businesses get a foot on the ladder and continue to find steady growth, they must quickly provide access to new and improved technologies.
With the advent of easier tax payments through digital means, quicker processing of new business applications and ways to mediate disputes in a more satisfactory process, the report said that progress can be made in some areas simply due to new capabilities.
A new record was also made by sub-Saharan African countries, as they carried out a total of 107 business reforms in the region, which marks the third year in a row that they have achieved new levels.
Rwanda moved up to 29th place on the list. Alongside seven reforms, it made greater inroads into international markets with a £30m sponsorship deal with UK football team Arsenal.
The World Bank hailed Rwanda’s progress, especially ‘making starting a business less costly by replacing electronic billing machines with free software for [VAT] invoices.’
It also noted better arbitration policy in Rwanda for settling disputes over land, coming second in this ranking to only New Zealand. It also enabled better electricity access and made regulators more able to deal with issues of insolvency by affording them greater control.
Additional top improvers in this year’s list included India, Turkey, Afghanistan and China. The World Bank’s Senior Director for Development Economics, Shanta Devarajan, who is also the acting Chief Economist, said: ‘The diversity among the top improvers shows that economies of all sizes and income levels and even those in conflict can advance the business climate for domestic small and medium enterprises.’