FEATURE STORY

Half of Latin American economies are among the best in the world for doing business

October 29, 2013

Guatemala is among the 10 countries in the world that made the most regulatory reforms.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In the past year, Guatemala was the country in the region that implemented the most reforms to attract investment.
  • Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica made the list of countries with a good business climate.

Fewer procedures to start a business, less paperwork, less waiting time, and ease of paying taxes, exporting goods and registering properties. These are some of the indicators measured in the report Doing Business 2014, which is prepared by the World Bank and its institution for the private sector, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The good news this year is that at least half of Latin American countries carried out regulatory reforms to improve these indicators. Particularly noteworthy is Guatemala, which is among the 10 countries in the world that made the most reforms this year.

The Central American country created a single window to obtain building permits, modified the system for filing and paying taxes and created an online platform that allows for the simultaneous registration of a new business with all pertinent governmental agencies.

 “It is an honor to be included among the top 10 reforming countries in the world, but it is also a great commitment and a responsibility, because it requires us to continue improving our business climate,” said Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina.

For his part, Oscar Avalle, World Bank resident representative, said that Guatemala has an excellent opportunity to take advantage of this impetus to continue with reforms to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises generate more formal employment and to make inroads in reducing poverty.”

Open Quotes

It is an honor to be included among the top 10 reforming countries in the world, but it is also a great commitment and a responsibility, because it requires us to continue improving our business climate. Close Quotes

Otto Pérez Molina
President of Guatemala

Also near the top of the list is Colombia –rated as one of the most open economies in our region – which since 2005 has implemented 27 reforms designed to reduce business startup time, facilitate tax payments and accelerate exports.

“The Colombian market has expanded and improved trade relations with foreign companies, among several other things, thanks to the many important projects that are emerging in the country,” said Sergio García Silva, director of the Spanish ACV Group in Colombia.

This is a strategic objective for the Colombian government.

 “An environment with quality regulations, low transaction costs, efficient procedures and transparent processes increases productivity of businesses, generates citizen confidence and stimulates competitiveness,” said Rodrigo Moreira, director of business development at the National Planning Department.

Mexico, among the top 50

Another large economy of the region, Mexico, is also among the top 50 countries in the world that made reforms to facilitate business activity. Changes included simplifying the procedure to obtain a new electricity connection, a single window for exporters and special courts to resolve contract disputes.

Hasan Tuluy, World Bank vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean, acknowledged that the country has also implemented other reforms that can greatly favor the business climate, such as those related to insurance and labor relations.

However, he noted that this positive impact is not reflected in this year’s Doing Business report since the study does not record changes in those areas.

In Doing Business 2014, Chile once again led the region in ease of doing business. Apart from the countries in the region mentioned above, Peru and Costa Rica also notably improved their business environment.