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PRESS RELEASE

Greece Top Improver in Starting a Business Worldwide says World Bank Group Report

October 29, 2013

Washington, D.C., October 29, 2013—A new World Bank Group report finds that between June 2012 and June 2013, Greece surpassed all economies globally in closing the gap towards global best practices in starting a business. Greece made starting a business easier and jumped 110 ranks by introducing a new type of limited liability company (IKE) with a streamlined registration process and abolishing its minimum capital requirement.

Doing Business 2014: Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises ranks 189 economies on the ease of doing business. Six of the top 10 are OECD economies. OECD economies also continue to take steps to improve business regulations, with more than half implementing at least one regulatory reform in the past year. In the past year, Greece implemented three sets of reforms that make it easier for local entrepreneurs to do business.

In addition to making it easier to start a business, the government also strengthened investor protections by requiring board of director’s approval of transactions between interested parties and made trading across borders easier by implementing a computerized customs clearance system. As a result, Greece is closer to global best practices than it has ever been since 2005. This year’s reforms are a continuation from last year, where Greece was among the top ten improvers thanks to reforms of construction permitting processes and insolvency proceedings, as well as stricter investor protections regulation worldwide.

“European economies in fiscal distress are changing business regulation as part of an effort to establish a firmer foundation for long-term growth,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group. “Greece’s continued regulatory reforms are laudable and a further step in the right direction to improve the quality of the investment climate. In the Doing Business 2014 report, Greece improved on the global aggregate ranking, landing at 72 out of 189 economies and moving it closer to the EU average ranking of 42. Making it significantly easier to start a business is particularly important for growth and job creation in Greece at this point in time. ”

Yet, challenges persist in some regulatory areas; Greece requires 11 procedures to complete a commercial property transfer. This is among the highest number of procedures in the world, only three economies require more procedures. Similarly, enforcing contracts through the court in Greece takes 1300 days – 2.5 years longer than what it takes in France or Austria.

Singapore tops the global ranking on the ease of doing business. Joining it on the list of the top 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulations are Hong Kong SAR, China; New Zealand; the United States; Denmark; Malaysia; the Republic of Korea; Georgia; Norway; and the United Kingdom.

In addition to the global rankings, every year Doing Business reports the economies that have improved the most on the indicators since the previous year. The 10 economies topping that list this year are (in order of improvement) Ukraine, Rwanda, the Russian Federation, the Philippines, Kosovo, Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Guatemala. Yet challenges persist: five of this year’s top improvers—Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, the Philippines, and Ukraine—are still in the bottom half of the global ranking on the ease of doing business.

About the Doing Business report series
The joint World Bank and IFC flagship Doing Business report analyzes regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency. The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 indicators and cover 189 economies. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example, it does not measure the quality of fiscal management, other aspects of macroeconomic stability, the level of skills in the labor force, or the resilience of financial systems. Its findings have stimulated policy debates worldwide and enabled a growing body of research on how firm-level regulation relates to economic outcomes across economies. This year’s report marks the 11th edition of the global Doing Business report series and covers 189 economies. For more information about the Doing Business reports, please visit doingbusiness.org and join us on doingbusiness.org/Facebook.

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.

Media Contacts
PRESS RELEASE NO:
2014/ECA/027