East Asia and Pacific Makes Steady Progress to
Improve Business Environment: Doing Business Report
BANGKOK, October 26, 2016 – This year, Thailand ranks at 46 on the ease of doing business, retaining a spot among the top 50 economies among 190 economies, worldwide.
Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All report, released today, finds that over two-thirds of the East Asia and Pacific’s 25 economies implemented doing business reforms in the past year to make it easier to do business. This past year, East Asia and Pacific countries implemented a total of 45 reforms, compared to 28 reforms the previous year, signaling an increase in doing business reforms across the region.
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).
Overall, Thailand has narrowed the gap between its performance and that of the leading countries - the distance to frontier score improved from 71.65 in Doing Business 2016 to 72.53 in Doing Business 2017. Thailand took steps to improve the business climate by implementing three reforms in the past year. This includes making it easier to start a business through the creation of a single window for registration payment and reducing the time taken to obtain a company seal. Thailand also improved access to credit information by starting to provide credit scores to banks and financial institutions, and made resolving insolvency easier through new restructuring for small and medium-size companies and by streamlining legal provisions related to company liquidation.
“Thailand is steadily making progress to ease the process of doing business,” said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Thailand. “Continuing focus on reforms to promote a better business environment, in addition to implementing public infrastructure investments, developing skilled-workers through quality education, and promoting innovations, can further improve the country’s competitiveness, which will lead to more and better jobs for many Thai people.”
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 abolishing the minimum capital requirement for small and medium-size 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 47 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 across sectors in the East Asia and Pacific Region are the stepping stones to enhance business activity. Despite a marked improvement from last year, economies in the region still have improvements to make in order to ease the business climate for local entrepreneurs,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project.
Challenges remain particularly 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 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 have been stipulated for married women to start a business, for example.
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 Brunei Darussalam 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
 Reform count and regional averages exclude Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand, which are classified as OECD high-income economies.