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Doing Business 2009: East Asia Gains Momentum in Regulatory Reform—China and Thailand Make Key Improvements, Singapore Tops Global Rankings

September 10, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2008—East Asia and the Pacific had the greatest momentum among regions in reforming business regulations this year, according to Doing Business 2009—the sixth in an annual series of reports published by IFC and the World Bank. The new report identifies 26 reforms between June 2007 and June 2008 that make it easier to do business in 24 countries across the region.


Among the world’s large emerging markets, China led with reforms that make it easier to obtain credit, pay taxes, and enforce contracts. The region’s other top economies in reforming business regulations include Thaliand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Improvements made it easier to pay taxes, start a business, trade across borders, and register property. These countries also took steps to protect investors, improve bankruptcy procedures, and strengthen the legal rights of creditors and borrowers. Cambodia's new secured transactions law made it the world’s leading economy in easing access to credit.


Doing Business ranks economies based on 10 indicators of business regulation that track the time and cost to meet government requirements in starting and operating a business, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. The rankings do not reflect such areas as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions, or crime rates.


Singapore leads the global rankings on the overall regulatory ease of doing business for a third consecutive year. New Zealand is runner-up, and the United States third. Hong Kong (China) retains fourth place, while Tailand advanced to 13 and Malaysia to 20. “Countries in the region are clearly committed to reform agendas,” said Dahlia Khalifa, a coauthor of the report. “Regardless of their stage of economic development, they are recognizing the role that regulatory reform can play in staying competitive while boosting entrepreneurship and job creation,” she added.


Among regions, Eastern Europe and Central Asia led the world in reforms for a fifth consecutive year. And the trend is moving eastward as newcomers join the list of economies making the most reforms. The top 10 are, in order, Azerbaijan, Albania, the Kyrgyz Republic, Belarus, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Egypt.


“Economies need rules that are efficient, easy to use, and accessible to all who have to use them. Otherwise, businesses get trapped in the unregulated, informal economy, where they have less access to finance and hire fewer workers, and where workers lack the protection of labor law,” said Michael Klein, World Bank/IFC Vice President for Financial and Private Sector Development. “Doing Business encourages good rules, and good rules are a better basis for healthy business than ‘who you know,’” he added.


Doing Business 2009 ranks 181 economies on the overall ease of doing business. The top 25 are, in order, Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, Hong Kong (China), Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Norway, Iceland, Japan, Thailand, Finland, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Bahrain, Belgium, Malaysia, Switzerland, Estonia, Korea, Mauritius, and Germany.


The Doing Business project is based on the efforts of more than 6,700 local experts—business consultants, lawyers, accountants, and government officials—and leading academics around the world who provided methodological support and review. The data, methodology, and names of contributors are publicly available online at www.doingbusiness.org.

Media Contacts
In Washington
Maria Alexandra Velez Henao
Tel : +1 (202) 458-8789
In East Asia & Pacific
Andrew Mak
Tel : (852) 25-09-81-10