East Asia and Pacific Hosts Some of the Most Business Friendly Economies in the World

October 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, October 27, 2015 – For the 10th consecutive year, Singapore ranks number one in the world on the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business measurement. Also among the top 20 economies are New Zealand (ranked 2); Republic of Korea (4); Hong Kong SAR, China (5); Taiwan, China (11); Australia (13); and Malaysia (18).

Released today, Doing Business 2016: Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency, finds that East Asia and the Pacific is the second most represented region, after Europe, in the world’s top 20 economies. Moreover, a majority of economies in East Asia and the Pacific are undertaking reforms to further improve the regulatory environment for small and medium-sized enterprises. During the past year, 52% of the region’s 25 economies1 implemented 27 reforms to make it easier to do business.

Economies across all income-groups carried out reforms, with Vietnam (5 reforms), Hong Kong SAR, China (4), and Indonesia (3) leading the way. In Indonesia, for instance, an online system was introduced for paying social security contributions, facilitating tax payments. Reforms in Vietnam included guaranteeing borrowers’ right to inspect their credit data and the newly-established credit bureau expanded borrower coverage. Thanks to this extended coverage, which is on par with those in some high-income economies, a small business in Vietnam with a good financial history is now more likely to get credit as financial institutions can properly assess its creditworthiness.

“Entrepreneurs in East Asia and Pacific are seeing reforms that cut across multiple sectors, from reducing barriers for opening a new business and making tax compliance easier, to improving regulations in the credit market and getting access to electricity,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project.

The highest number of reforms recorded in the past year was in the area of Starting a Business. Myanmar made the most improvement globally by eliminating the minimum capital requirement for local companies and by streamlining incorporation procedures, helping small enterprises save valuable time and resources. In Brunei Darussalam, which also reformed the incorporation process, the average time for starting a business fell to 14 days, compared to 104 days last year, as a result of improved online procedures, and simplified registration and post registration requirements.

However, even as East Asia and the Pacific economies are gradually converging towards regulatory best practices, challenges remain, particularly in the areas of Resolving Insolvency, Enforcing Contracts and Registering Property. On Registering Property, it takes an average of 74 days for an entrepreneur in East Asia and the Pacific to complete a property transfer, compared to the global average of 48 days.

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 the 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 – East Asia and the Pacific economies have room for improvement.

On Getting Electricity, for instance, the new dataset finds that several regional economies face either frequent outages or do not track them adequately. Nonetheless, Cambodia was one of only two economies worldwide that recorded a reform to improve electricity reliability, thanks to considerable infrastructure investments.

Ranks of some other economies in the region are Indonesia (109); Japan (34); the Philippines (103); Thailand (49); and Vietnam (90).

The full report and accompanying datasets are available at


Reform count and regional averages exclude Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand, which are classified
as OECD high-income economies.

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