The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report reviews 190 economies across 12 business regulatory areas “to assess the business environment in each economy,” according to its authors.  

One noticeable takeaway from the report is that developing economies are catching up with developed economies in the ease of doing business, although the gap remains wide. 

The construction industry stands to benefit as several countries have introduced changes to improve construction permits by cutting the number of procedures and waiting times for approval as well as making construction permits more transparent by publicly digitising building permit requirements. 

The top 10 best places in the world to do business are New Zealand, having the lowest number of procedures required to start a new business (along with Georgia) as well as the shortest time to start a business at just 0.5 days. 

Singapore had the second-highest score thanks to aspects such as cross-border compliance. For example, export border compliance times in Singapore average just 10 hours compared to more than 200 hours in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. 

Meanwhile, Denmark, South Korea, the USA, Georgia, the UK, Norway and Sweden offer the most favourable conditions for entrepreneurial activity.

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Top 10 reformers

The top 10 improvers in this year’s index are Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China, India and Nigeria. Together, they implemented 59 regulatory reforms in 2018/19, accounting for a fifth of all the reforms recorded worldwide. Their efforts focused primarily on the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and trading across borders.

India climbed 14 places to be 63rd among 190 nations to become the top-ranked country in South Asia for the first time and third among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), on the back of the reforms undertaken by the Modi Government. India’s most improved business regulatory areas are: starting a business; dealing with construction permits; and resolving insolvency.

The UAE remained the stronger performer in the Middle East and the Arab region, ranked 16th globally. Countries of the GCC carried out a record of 35 new reforms to improve the ease of doing business for their domestic enterprises. This is more than double the number of reforms carried out in the previous 12-month period, made up of 14 reforms. Saudi Arabia is the most improved economy in the region with a total of eight reforms. It made starting a business easier by establishing a one-stop-shop, has also adopted a new building code and launched an online platform for building permits. The kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan for long-term development embraces a variety of legal and structural reforms.

Egypt’s ranking has climbed by six spots given its improved investment climate due to improvements in its electricity infrastructure in addition to transparency in electricity prices. 

Jordan and Kuwait are new additions to the list of 10 most improved economies. Jordan introduced three major reforms: a new secured transactions law, amending the insolvency law and launching a unified, modern collateral registry. Kuwait carried out a host of reforms notably when dealing with construction permits by streamlining its permitting process and integrating additional authorities to its electronic permitting platform, thus reducing the number of procedures and the time to obtain a construction permit.

Rwanda, Morocco, Kenya, and Tunisia followed Mauritius as the best country for doing business for private sectors and investors. Kenya made dealing with construction permits more transparent by making building permit requirements publicly available online and by reducing fees. Nigeria appears as one of the top ten improvers for the second time, it earned a place among the year’s top global improvers alongside Togo. 

Colombia has implemented a total of 37 reforms since 2005 and remains a top performer. Mexico is the best-ranked country in Latin America, ranked 60th globally, but for the second consecutive year, it did not introduce any significant improvements in the business climate. Compared to other parts of the world, Latin America still underperforms in several areas and remains one of the weak performing regions. 

Overall, analysis of the report showed that governments of 115 economies around the world launched 294 reforms during the past year to help reduce the cost, and time involved, in doing business for their national private sectors.

Regional view: time, cost and number of procedures to comply with formalities to build a warehouse

Source: World Bank