New Zealand Tops Survey On Business Climate

By Agence France-Presse New Zealand ranked at the top of a list of 145 countries for "ease of doing business" over the past year, while Slovakia and Colombia made the most improvement, a World Bank survey showed Sept. 8. New Zealand, followed by the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, was among the top five in the survey, based on regulatory climate, flexible labor laws and other factors, the World Bank said. The survey indicated that wealthy countries undertook three times as many investment climate reforms as poor countries last year, portending a potentially wider gap between rich and poor nations. "Poor countries that desperately need new enterprises and jobs risk falling even further behind rich ones who are simplifying regulation and making their investment climates more business-friendly," said Michael Klein, World Bank vice president for private-sector development. The report showed that, on average, it takes a business in a rich nation six procedures, 8% of income per capita and 27 days to get started. In a poor or lower-middle-income economy, the same process takes 11 procedures, 122% of income per capita and 59 days. European nations were especially active in enacting reforms to help businesses, the report showed. The top 10 reformers for the most recent year were Slovakia, Colombia, Belgium, Finland, India, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The report focused on five sets of business environment indicators: starting a business, hiring and firing workers, enforcing contracts, getting credit and closing a business. After the top five, the others in the top 20 economies in terms of ease of doing business were Norway, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovakia, Botswana and Thailand. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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