New Zealand has been named the easiest place to do business in a World Bank report.
The country has knocked Singapore off the top spot and into second place in this year’s Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All report, which ranks states on factors including starting a business, enforcing contracts, getting electricity and obtaining credit.
Denmark, Hong Kong (China), South Korea, Norway, UK, US, Sweden and Macedonia make up the rest of the top 10.
More than 75% of the 283 reforms identified in the report over the past year took place in developing countries, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for over a quarter of all changes.
The top 10 most improved countries were Brunei, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Belarus, Indonesia, Serbia, Georgia, Pakistan, the UAE and Bahrain.
The area that saw most reforms by far was starting a business, which has seen almost 600 reforms recorded in 137 countries since 2004, with 49 taking place during the past year.
For the first time the report included an indicator on public procurement regulations, which covered accessibility and transparency, bid security, payment delays, incentives for SMEs and complaints mechanisms.
In 37% of the 78 countries analysed, payment to suppliers occurred on average within 30 days, while in 48% it took between 31 and 90 days.
Some 97% had one or more online portals dedicated to public procurement and around 90% required suppliers to make a security deposit for their bid to be considered.
“Public procurement represents, on average, 10-25% of an economy’s GDP, making the procurement market a unique pool of business opportunities for the private sector,” said the report.
On the whole countries that scored higher in the report also had lower levels of inequality, the World Bank said.
In 23 countries it was harder for married women to start a business than men and in 16 countries women’s ability to own, use and transfer property was limited. The report found that, in these economies, fewer women work in the private sector both as employers and employees.
In East Asia the pace of reforms picked up significantly in the past year, with the region’s economies implementing a total of 45 reforms to improve the ease of doing business.
Europe and Central Asia has consistently been the region with the highest average number of reforms per economy.
The Middle East and North Africa region saw 35 reforms in 15 of the region’s 20 economies. However, the region also had the greatest gender disparities, with 70% of the economies creating barriers for women entrepreneurs.
Sub-Saharan Africa economies undertook a total of 80 business reforms in the past year, an increase of 14% on the previous year, but 13 economies in the region created additional hurdles for women.
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