Wed, Sep 26, 2007
Singapore top paradise for business: World Bank

WASHINGTON - SINGAPORE once again topped the World Bank's ranks for the best place in the world to do business, and Egypt is the leader in reforms to invite more business, the World Bank said on Tuesday.

'For the second year running, Singapore tops the aggregate rankings on the ease of doing business' in 2006 to 2007, the World Bank said in releasing its 'Doing Business 2008' report.

Singapore unseated New Zealand in the annual rankings last year. In the latest report, New Zealand held on to the number-two spot, ahead of the United States, in third place.

Hong Kong, Denmark, Britain, Canada, Ireland, Australia and Iceland rounded out in descending order the top 10 places for ease of doing business in the survey of 178 economies.

The World Bank said that countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union reformed the most in 2006 to 2007, along with a large group of emerging markets, including China and India.

'China was the standout in East Asia, implementing far-reaching new private property rights and a new bankruptcy law,' the bank said in a statement.

Egypt, the leading reformer, greatly improved its position in the global rankings on the ease of doing business, with reforms in five of the 10 areas studied by the report, the bank said.

'The report finds that equity returns are highest in countries that are reforming the most,' said Michael Klein, World Bank/International Finance Corporation vice president for financial and private-sector development.

'Investors are looking for upside potential, and they find it in economies that are reforming - regardless of their starting point,' he added.

In addition to Egypt, the other top 10 reformers are, in order, Croatia, Ghana, Macedonia, Georgia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, China and Bulgaria.

'The results show that as governments ease regulations for doing business, more entrepreneurs go into business,' said Simeon Djankov, lead author of the report.

'Eastern Europe has witnessed a boom in new business entry that rivals the rapid growth in East Asia in the past,' he said.

The rankings are based on 10 indicators of business regulation that track the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure, the bank said. -- AFP

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