Washington, D.C., October 29, 2013—A
new World Bank Group report finds that the pace of business regulatory
reform in the Middle East and North Africa has slowed amid the unrest affecting
the region. Governments find it increasingly challenging to keep up with
reforms taking place in other regions of the world, the report finds.
Doing Business 2014: Understanding
Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises finds that the Middle
East and North Africa had the world’s smallest share of economies implementing
at least one business regulatory reform in 2012/13. Forty percent of the
region’s economies reformed in an area tracked by the report, compared
with 75 percent in South Asia and 73 percent in Europe and Central Asia.
Among the region’s economies, the United Arab Emirates has the best business
regulatory environment overall, as measured by the Doing Business
The report finds that economies in the
region have been slow to adopt new technology for filing and paying taxes.
Only five of 20 economies have implemented electronic filing and payment
systems that are widely used by firms, as measured by the report. These
include Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, which reformed
in this area in the past five years.
“Despite the challenges facing the
Middle East and North Africa, several economies in the region continue
to take steps to improve their business climate,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros,
Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group. “In the past
year the United Arab Emirates strengthened investor protections, improved
electricity access, and simplified property transfers. Djibouti adopted
a new Commercial Code that has helped expand access to credit for firms
and has made starting a business and resolving insolvency easier.”
Morocco made starting a business easier
by reducing company registration fees and eliminating the minimum capital
requirement for limited liability companies. It made transferring property
easier by reducing the time required to register a deed of transfer. And
it made paying taxes easier for companies by increasing the use of the
electronic filing and payment system for social security contributions.
For the first time, Doing Business
this year includes data on Libya, Myanmar, and South Sudan. The data
show that Libya has complex and costly regulatory processes and weak regulatory
institutions. This is reflected in its ranking of 187 among 189 economies
globally on the ease of doing business.
Singapore tops the global ranking on
the ease of doing business. Joining it on the list of the top 10 economies
with the most business-friendly regulations are Hong Kong SAR, China; New
Zealand; the United States; Denmark; Malaysia; the Republic of Korea; Georgia;
Norway; and the United Kingdom.
In addition to the global rankings,
every year Doing Business reports the economies that have improved
the most on the indicators since the previous year. The 10 economies topping
that list this year are (in order of improvement) Ukraine, Rwanda, the
Russian Federation, the Philippines, Kosovo, Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire,
Burundi, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Guatemala. Yet
challenges persist: five of this year’s top improvers—Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire,
Djibouti, the Philippines, and Ukraine—are still in the bottom half of
the global ranking on the ease of doing business.
About the Doing Business report
The joint World Bank and IFC flagship
Doing Business report analyzes regulations that apply to
an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and
operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and resolving insolvency.
The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 indicators
and cover 189 economies. Doing Business does not measure all aspects
of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example,
it does not measure the quality of fiscal management, other aspects of
macroeconomic stability, the level of skills in the labor force, or the
resilience of financial systems. Its findings have stimulated policy debates
worldwide and enabled a growing body of research on how firm-level regulation
relates to economic outcomes across economies. This year’s report marks
the 11th edition of the global Doing Business report
series and covers 189 economies. For more information about the Doing
Business reports, please visit doingbusiness.org and join us on doingbusiness.org/Facebook.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding
and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated
institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together
form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral
Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement
of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role
in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people
in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org,
Regional Media Contacts:
Middle East and North Africa
Riham Mustafa +202 (2) 4691-4230
Lara Saade +1 (202) 473-9887