WASHINGTON, October 25, 2016 – Economies of the East Asia and Pacific region are steadily making progress to ease the process of doing business, finds the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business report.
Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All report, released today, finds that over two-thirds of the region’s 25 economies[i] implemented 45 reforms in the past year to make it easier to do business, compared to 28 reforms the previous year.
Four economies in the East Asia and Pacific region rank among the top 10 economies globally in the Doing Business rankings. The top-ranked economies are New Zealand (at 1), followed by Singapore (2), Hong Kong SAR, China (4) and the Republic of Korea (5).
Notably, two economies from the region, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia, are among this year’s top 10 improvers in the world.
Indonesia, which implemented seven reforms during the past year, made starting a business easier by, among other things, abolishing the minimum capital requirement for small and medium-sized enterprises and by encouraging the use of an online system to reserve company names. As a result, it now takes 22 days to start a business in Jakarta, compared with 46.5 days previously.
Brunei Darussalam, which implemented six reforms in the past year, increased the reliability of power supply by introducing an automatic energy management system for the monitoring of outages and the restoration of service. Additionally, businesses can now get electricity faster due to the utility in Brunei Darussalam streamlining the processes of reviewing applications. As a result, a business can get connected to the grid in 35 days, compared to 56 days previously.
And Vanuatu, which undertook four reforms, made starting a business easier by removing registration requirements and digitizing the company register.
“New reforms tackling multiple barriers to business in the East Asia and Pacific region are the stepping stones to enhance business activity. Despite marked improvements, economies in the region still have improvements to make in order to ease the business climate for local entrepreneurs,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager, Doing Business Report.
Challenges remain particularly significant in the areas of Starting a Business, Trading Across Borders and Enforcing Contracts. For example, it takes on average 57 hours to comply with border regulations for exports in the region, this is significantly longer than the average time of 12 hours it takes in OECD high-income economies.
This year, for the first time, Doing Business includes a gender dimension in three of the 10 topics covered: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. The report finds that, in those areas, few East Asia and Pacific economies have gender barriers. The exceptions include Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, where extra procedures are required for married women to start a business.
In addition, the Paying Taxes indicator has been expanded to cover post-filing processes, such as tax audits and VAT refund. Many East Asia and Pacific economies perform well in these areas. There are exceptions however. Tax audit compliance time, for example, is high in Thailand and Timor-Leste, and compliance with a VAT refund process is time-consuming in Tonga as well as Fiji.
The full report and accompanying datasets are available at www.doingbusiness.org
[i] Reform count and regional averages exclude Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand, which are classified as OECD high-income economies.