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The world's most business-friendly countries

The global economic downturn may have temporarily slowed business activity around the world

travel Updated: Jan 31, 2012 15:07 IST

The global economic downturn may have temporarily slowed business activity around the world, but many countries are playing their part to improve domestic regulations aimed at helping facilitate business.

According to the World Bank's global economy standings - which ranks 183 countries on the basis of how easy it is to conduct business - the countries with the best and worst environments for business are:

Ease of Doing Business: Top 10
Rank: 1 Singapore | $222.7 billion GDP
Rank: 2 Hong Kong | $224.46 billion GDP
Rank: 3 New Zealand | $126.68 billion GDP
Rank: 4 United States | $14.58 trillion GDP
Rank: 5 Denmark | $310.4 billion GDP
Rank: 6 Norway | $414.46 billion GDP
Rank: 7 United Kingdom | $2.25 trillion GDP
Rank: 8 Korea, Rep. | $1.01 trillion GDP
Rank: 9 Iceland | $12.59 billion GDP
Rank: 10 Ireland | $203.89 billion GDP

Ease of Doing Business: Bottom 10

Rank: 183 Chad | $7.59 billion GDP
Rank: 182 Central African Republic | $2.01 billion GDP
Rank: 181 Congo, Rep. | $17.11 billion GDP
Rank: 180 Eritrea | $2.12 billion GDP
Rank: 179 Guinea | $4.51 billion GDP
Rank: 178 Congo, Dem. Rep. | $23.12 billion GDP
Rank: 177 Venezuela | $387.85 billion GDP
Rank: 176 Guinea-Bissau | $878.52 million GDP
Rank: 175 Benin | $6.63 billion GDP
Rank: 174 Haiti | $6.71 billion GDP

The higher the global economic ranking, the more conducive that country is for people to establish and operate a local company. The index takes into consideration 10 equally weighted topics, including the ease of: Starting a business; dealing with construction permits; getting electricity; registering property; getting credit; protecting investors; paying taxes; trading across borders; enforcing contacts and resolving insolvency.

Countries that rank high on the ease of doing business index typically establish and enforce regulations that clarify property rights and decrease the cost of resolving disputes; enforce rules that increase the predictability and transparency of economic activity and provide contractual partners with protection against abuse. The purpose is to establish efficient regulations that are accessible to all parties and simplify in their implementation.

Despite a still sluggish global economy, there are positive signs in terms of regulation reforms aimed at helping facilitate business. Between 2010-2011, 88 percent of countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia enacted business regulation reforms - the highest percent of reforms by region - followed by 78 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 68 percent in OECD high income countries, 63 percent in South Asia, 61 percent in the Middle East and North Africa region, 58 percent in East Asia and the Pacific and 53 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to a 2012 report by The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, between 2010 and 2011, 125 economies worldwide enacted 245 reforms to make it easier to conduct business - an increase of 13 percent from the year prior. Over the past six years, 94 percent of the economies analysed in the report made their economic regulatory environments more business friendly. Despite the fact that many of the countries with the lowest rankings on the ease of doing business scale are in Africa, Latin America and South America, many of the most improved countries also fall into those regions.

The economies that improved the most between 2010 and 2011 - gaining ground in more than three areas of economic regulation - are: Morocco (rank improvement: 21 points), Moldova (18 points), FYR Macedonia (12 points), São Tomé and Principe (11 points), Latvia (points), Cape Verde (10 points), Sierra Leone (9 points), Burundi (8 points), the Solomon Islands (7 points), Korea Rep. (7 points), Armenia (6 points) and Colombia (5 points).