UAE tops in ease of doing business in Mideast
Washington, October 29, 2013
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) topped the Middle East region in the latest ease of doing business rankings published by the World Bank. Saudi Arabia took the second position in the region.
Overall, Singapore topped the global ranking in the Doing Business 2014 report. Joining it on the list of the top 10 economies with the most business-friendly regulatory environments are Hong Kong SAR; New Zealand; the United States; Denmark; Malaysia; the Republic of Korea; Georgia; Norway; and the United Kingdom.
The World Bank said that its scorecard on the ease of doing business around the world has spurred thousands of regulatory reforms in the past decade, pushing back against critics who argue the national rankings stigmatise rather than inspire.
UAE was placed 23 on the world ranking, while Saudi Arabia took the 26th spot. Bahrain was placed 46, Oman 47, Qatar 48, Tunisia 51, Kuwait 104, Lebanon 111, Jordan 119 and Egypt 128.
The "Doing Business" report said Ukraine was the country that has improved the most over the past year in making it easier to run a business, while Rwanda was most improved since 2005.
The report judged 189 countries on 10 criteria, such as ease of opening a business or paying taxes, and assigns each country a rank. Since their inception in 2003, the rankings have come to carry a huge weight with governments eager to attract private enterprise.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 9 of the 20 economies narrowing the gap with the regulatory frontier the most since 2009. Low-income economies narrowed this gap twice as much as high-income economies did, the report said.
The report has directly inspired or informed about a quarter of the 2,100 regulatory changes tracked since 2003, said the World Bank, whose mission is to eradicate extreme poverty.
But some governments and watchdog groups say the ratings are misleading, subjective, or overly focused on cutting red tape for businesses at the expense of workers.
Countries like China - ranked 96 in the latest report - have also complained the ratings unfairly stigmatise fast-growing developing economies.
"'Doing Business' is not about less regulation but about better regulation," the World Bank said in the report. Countries can get lower ratings if they reduce investor protections, for example.
But in a seeming nod to critics, the bank also said the ratings should be considered in the broader context of how much countries have improved their business regulations, and should not be taken as representative of every factor that impacts economic growth.
The overall ranking reflects how a country compares to others, but may not capture how much it has done in absolute terms to reduce red tape. It also does not show the huge variations that can exist among various indicators.
For example, Estonia ranks 22nd overall, but is 68 on the specific criterion of protecting investors, and in seventh place for trading across borders.
"I would just like to underscore ... this effort we're making quite deliberately is to de-emphasise the rankings and move to measures of overall improvement," Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of the World Bank's global indicators, told reporters.
But he said the bank decided to keep the overall rankings because they helped countries aspire towards the best practices in the world, such as the regulations in Singapore, New Zealand and Denmark.
"The World Bank decided to continue with the rankings because there is really overwhelming support for them in the world," he said. - TradeArabia and Reuters