The FINANCIAL — A new World Bank Group report finds that Thailand has retained its position among the top 50 economies worldwide and has ranked third among ASEAN countries on the ease of doing business.
For the 10th consecutive year, Singapore ranks number one in the world on the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business measurement. Also among the top 20 economies are New Zealand (ranked 2), Republic of Korea (4), Hong Kong SAR, China (5), Taiwan, China (11), Australia (13) and Malaysia (18).
Released on October 28, Doing Business 2016: Measuring Quality and Efficiency finds that East Asia and the Pacific is the second most represented region, after Europe, in the world’s top 20 economies. Moreover, a majority of economies in East Asia and the Pacific are undertaking reforms to further improve the regulatory environment for small and medium-sized enterprises. During the past year, 52 percent of the region’s 25 economies1 implemented 27 reforms to make it easier to do business.
Using comparable methodology, Thailand is ranked 49 among 189 economies in 2015, compared with 46 in 2014.
“Thailand is an attractive place to do business for Thai and foreign investors,” said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Thailand. “In the future, Thailand will have the opportunity to improve its business environment through reforms such as improving the quality of land administration index by digitizing and publishing the land registry. Such reforms can help improve Thailand’s competitiveness compared with other advanced middle-income countries that have pursued investment climate reforms vigorously in recent years.”
Economies across all income-groups carried out reforms, with Vietnam (5 reforms), Hong Kong SAR, China (4), and Indonesia (3) leading the way. In Indonesia, for instance, an online system was introduced for paying social security contributions, facilitating tax payments. Reforms in Vietnam included guaranteeing borrowers’ right to inspect their credit data and the newly-established credit bureau expanded borrower coverage. Thanks to this extended coverage, which is on par with those in some high-income economies, a small business in Vietnam with a good financial history is now more likely to get credit as financial institutions can properly assess its creditworthiness.
The highest number of reforms recorded in the past year was in the area of Starting a Business. Myanmar made the most improvement globally by eliminating the minimum capital requirement for local companies and by streamlining incorporation procedures, helping small enterprises save valuable time and resources. In Brunei Darussalam, which also reformed the incorporation process, the average time for starting a business fell to 14 days, compared to 104 days last year, as a result of improved online procedures, and simplified registration and post registration requirements.
However, even as East Asia and the Pacific economies are gradually converging towards regulatory best practices, challenges remain, particularly in the areas of Resolving Insolvency, Enforcing Contracts and Registering Property. On Registering Property, it takes an average 74 days for an entrepreneur in East Asia and the Pacific to complete a property transfer, compared to the global average of 48 days.
This year’s Doing Business report completes a two-year effort to expand benchmarks that measure the quality of regulation, as well as efficiency of the business regulatory framework, in order to better capture ground realities. On the five indicators that saw changes in this report – Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting Electricity, Enforcing Contracts, Registering Property and Trading Across Borders – East Asia and the Pacific economies have room for improvement.