Advanced Economies Continue to Provide the Best Regulatory Environment for Entrepreneurs, Says Doing Business Report

October 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, October 27, 2015 – High-income economies of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) set best practices for business regulation across all areas of the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business.

Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, released today, finds that eight OECD high-income economies rank among the world’s top 10 on the ease of doing business, namely New Zealand (ranked second in the world); Denmark (3); Republic of Korea (4); United Kingdom (6); United States (7); Sweden (8); Norway (9); and Finland (10). Singapore is the world’s top ranked economy and Hong Kong SAR, China is in fifth place.

In the past year, 19 of the 32 OECD high-income economies implemented 23 reforms in the areas measured by the report. The majority of these reforms were in the areas of Starting a Business (6 reforms) and, in particular, Paying Taxes (9) – where the OECD high-income was the most active region.

While the pace of reforms in the OECD high-income declined compared to the previous year, several economies introduced online business services for entrepreneurs, making it easier to comply with regulations. Norway, for instance, made it easier to start a business by offering online government registration and online bank account registration. Poland and Spain made it easier to pay taxes by introducing and enhancing the electronic system for filing and paying the value-added tax (VAT). Meanwhile, Italy made the largest improvement globally in the area of Enforcing Contracts by introducing a mandatory electronic filing system for court users, simplifying the rules for electronic service of process and automating the enforcement process.

“Despite being among the top performers, OECD high-income economies remain committed to further improving the regulatory environment for local small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, which produces the report. “In the past year, entrepreneurs in many economies saw reforms that emphasized facilitating doing business via online platforms for every aspect of running a company – from initial registration to filing taxes.”

Thanks to their ambitious reform agenda, high-income OECD economies have converged towards best practices. For example, over the past 10 years, Poland has reduced the time for entrepreneurs to register property from more than 190 to 33 days through the digitization of its land registry and the implementation of online services. In Spain, starting a business took more than 130 days in 2005, but now the process can be completed in 14 days – similar to Finland – thanks to the introduction of several reforms, including an electronic system linking public agencies involved in the incorporation process.

On average, the region’s economies rank best in the areas of Resolving Insolvency (average rank of 23) and Trading Across Borders (25). Thanks to the facilitation of trade within the European Union, 14 economies in the OECD high-income group rank first in trade. 

This year’s Doing Business report completes a two-year effort to expand benchmarks that measure the quality of regulation, as well as the efficiency of the business regulatory framework, in order to better capture realities on the ground. On the five indicators that saw changes in this report – Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting Electricity, Enforcing Contracts, Registering Property and Trading Across Borders – OECD high-income economies scored well above the global average. On Getting Electricity, for instance, the report finds that local entrepreneurs typically face only one hour of outages per year compared to a global average of over 100 hours. 

Ranks of other large economies in the OECD are Germany (15), France (27), Spain (33), Japan (34), and Italy (45).  

The full report and accompanying datasets are available at

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