Economies Improving Business Regulation and Empowering Entrepreneurs

November 4, 2010

Washington, D.C., November 4, 2010 — In the past year, governments in 117 economies carried out 216 regulatory reforms aimed at making it easier to start and operate a business, strengthening transparency and property rights, and improving the efficiency of commercial dispute resolution and bankruptcy procedures.

This is a finding of Doing Business 2011: Making a Difference for Entrepreneurs, the eighth in a series of annual reports published by IFC and the World Bank. The report ranks 183 economies on key aspects of business regulation for domestic firms.

Globally, doing business remains easiest in the high-income economies of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development and most difficult in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. But developing economies are increasingly active. In the past year, 66 percent reformed business regulation, up from 34 percent six years earlier.

In the past five years, about 85 percent of the world’s economies have made it easier for local entrepreneurs to operate, through 1,511 improvements to business regulation. Doing Business 2011 pioneers a new measure showing how much business regulation has changed in 174 economies since 2005. China and India are among the top 40 most-improved economies. Among the top 30 most-improved economies, a third are from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Worldwide, more than half the regulatory changes recorded in the past year eased business start-up, trade, and the payment of taxes. Many of the improvements involve new technologies. “New technology underpins regulatory best practice around the world,” said Janamitra Devan, Vice President for Financial and Private Sector Development for the World Bank Group. “Technology makes compliance easier, less costly, and more transparent.”

For the fifth year running, Singapore leads in the ease of doing business, followed by Hong Kong SAR China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Among the top 25 economies, 18 made things even easier over the past year.

“Governments worldwide have been consistently taking steps to empower local entrepreneurs,” said Neil Gregory, Acting Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group. “The economies most affected by the financial crisis—especially in Eastern Europe—have been targeting regulatory reforms over the past year to make it easier for small and medium-size enterprises to recover and to create jobs.”

Kazakhstan improved business regulation for local entrepreneurs the most in the past year. This year’s list of the 10 most-improved economies also includes three in Sub-Saharan Africa—Rwanda (a consistent reformer of business regulation), Cape Verde, and Zambia—as well as Peru, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Hungary, Grenada, and Brunei Darussalam.

Turkey ranked 65th among 183 countries in the World Bank Group’s 2011 Ease of Doing Business rankings, down from 60th place last year. The 2011 report highlights the progress that Turkey has made to improve its investment climate. In particular, it notes significant steps taken over the last six years in reducing the burden of tax administration procedures on businesses and, in the area of enforcing contracts, points to Turkey’s framework as an example of good practice. The report also sheds light on policy areas where reforms in Turkey remain important and where progress has been more limited, particularly when compared with other emerging market economies. Specifically, Turkish businesses continue to face serious constraints in dealing with construction permits and closing a business.

About the Doing Business report series

Doing Business 2011 is the eighth in a series of annual reports issued by the World Bank Group assessing the role of regulatory frameworks in enhancing or constraining business activity. The report highlights the importance of a strong private sector business environment for helping generate economic growth and jobs. The Doing Business report provides a quantitative measure of the impact of regulations, based indicators in 9 key areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, transferring property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and closing a business. Performance against these indicators serves to rank countries on the basis of the quality of their regulatory environment and to identify top reformers over the last year. The main objective of Doing Business is to provide such international benchmarking as a service to policymakers and private sector stakeholders alike and to motivate and inform the design of reforms, promoting private sector development.

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), 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.

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