By Michael Patrick McSweeney (@mpmcsweeney)
Hong Kong and Singapore were the most business-friendly economies in 2013, according to a new report from the World Bank released on October 28.
The international financial assistance organization identified entrepreneur-oriented regulations and trade agreements as key factors that helped these economies foster growth and innovation.
The World Bank published a second list within the report which identified the countries showing the fastest pace of business reform. Nations such as the Russian Federation, Rwanda and China were included.
The report's data suggests that Asia is among the most business-friendly regions. Business regulation reform, particularly as it relates to trade, played a major role in how Hong Kong and Singapore topped the list.
Businesses Expand Reform Efforts In 2013
The report found that 114 economies undertook 238 separate reform efforts over the last year. Initiatives such as reducing the amount of time it takes to establish a business and making the process of importing or exporting goods more efficient were cited in the World Bank report.
“This pick-up in pace of regulatory reform is good news particularly for small and medium-size businesses - the main job creators in many parts of the world,” Rita Ramalho, the program director for the World Bank publication, said in a statement.
Ramalho added that 2013’s rate of reform was the second-highest since the 2008 financial crisis.
The pace of reform in 2013 was up 18 percent from the previous year. During the 2011-2012 period, 108 economies signed 201 business reforms into law.
Eastern European, Central Asian Economies Open
Ninety-two percent of economies located in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have adopted business reforms since 2009 that makes establishing a business easier for entrepreneurs, the World Bank reported.
According to the study, this was the highest rate of reform expansion in this category among all regions.
“Governments across the globe realize the private sector is an important motor of development and job creation,” Ramalho said. “And they realize it’s important to have the right regulations that enable the development of the private sector.”
Africa’s Decade Of Reform Growth Continues
The World Bank’s list of most-improved economies included many from Africa, reflecting a shifting business climate on the continent.
The World Bank reported that 66 percent of African countries enacted at least one business reform during 2013. In 2005, just 33 percent of nations did the same.
Countries such as Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone were featured on the list that have steadily improved since 2009.
“Countries want to be more competitive and to be prepared for when their markets are more open to international trade,” said Ramalho.
However, Ramahlo cautioned that “the right regulations can only get you so far.”
To see the numerical breakdown of business reform progress made in recent years, access the World Bank’s report here.