New Zealand is the easiest place in the world to do business, according to the World Bank's new Doing Business 2020 report, which looks at the simplicity of setting up, operating, and paying taxes in 190 territories around the world.
Specifically, the report grades territories according to the rules affecting a business from inception through operation to wind-down: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.
The top 10 best places in the world to do business, according to the study, are New Zealand (with a score of 86.8 out of 100), Singapore (86.2), Hong Kong (85.3), Denmark (85.3), the Republic of Korea (84), the United States (84), Georgia (83.7), the United Kingdom (83.5), Norway (82.6), and Sweden (82).
The World Bank said: "Economies that score highest on the ease of doing business ranking share several common features, including the widespread use of electronic systems. The top-20 economies have online business incorporation processes, electronic tax-filing platforms, and allow online procedures related to property transfers. Moreover, 11 economies have electronic procedures for construction [permits]."
Of the top-10 improvers in this year's index, Jordan, Bahrain, Pakistan, and China were praised for simplifying tax compliance.
The World Bank said Jordan had joined the top reformers for the first time with three reforms. The country strengthened access to credit by introducing a new secured transactions law, amending the insolvency law, and launching a unified, modern, and notice-based collateral registry. In addition, Jordan made paying taxes easier by implementing electronic filing and payment for labor taxes and other mandatory contributions.
Meanwhile, China made paying taxes easier by implementing preferential tax treatment on corporate income tax rates for small and thin-profit enterprises, among other steps, the World Bank said.
The World Bank noted that economies in Europe and Central Asia have made notable improvements to the ease of paying taxes. Since Doing Business began to research business climates, 22 economies in the region have allowed electronic filing of taxes.
The Caribbean, too, has implemented various reforms since the last report. These territories had carried out a record 19 reforms and 11 of 16 economies implemented business-facilitating reforms primarily focused on starting a business, getting electricity, paying taxes, and enforcing contracts, the World Bank said.
Latin America lagged other regions of the world, with no Latin economy ranking among the top-50 best places globally to do businesses. Colombia, ranked 67th globally, has implemented a total of 37 reforms since 2005 and continues to lead reform efforts in the region, the World Bank said.