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Doing Business 2010: Middle East-North Africa Sets Business Regulatory Reform Pace


In Washington, D.C.:


Nadine Ghannam
Phone: +1 (202) 473-3011
E-mail: nsghannam@ifc.org

Washington, D.C., September 9, 2009—The Middle East and North Africa picked up the pace of business regulatory reform faster than any other region in a year of global financial uncertainty, according to a new report by IFC and the World Bank.


Doing Business 2010: Reforming through Difficult Times finds that between June 2008 and May 2009, 17 of 19 economies in the region passed regulatory reforms to create opportunity for domestic entrepreneurs. The report is the seventh in an annual series.

Egypt moved up to 106 from 116 among 183 economies worldwide in the overall ease of doing business ranking. Among the world’s 10 most active reformers for the fourth time, Egypt made business start-up less costly, expedited the construction permit process, expanded the information available from the private credit bureau, and created commercial courts to speed up contract dispute settlements.

Saudi Arabia rose to 13 from 15 on the ease of doing business—making it the highest-ranked economy in the region—by establishing a one-stop center for business registration and a faster process for construction permits.

“Economies in the Middle East and North Africa are reforming at an impressive rate, and in sustained and comprehensive ways that highlight insights gained from other reformers,” said Dahlia Khalifa, an author of the report. “Governments are paying attention to the quality of business regulation to make their economies more competitive and encourage entrepreneurs. This is always important, but especially during these difficult times.”

The United Arab Emirates moved up to 33 from 47 on the ease of doing business and became one of the world’s 10 most active reformers for the first time by eliminating the minimum capital requirement for business start-ups and simplifying registration.

Jordan made it easier to start a business and pay taxes, extended the construction permit one-stop shop to medium-size projects, lowered property transfer taxes, implemented major court reforms, and sped up trade. Yemen—the world’s fastest reformer last year for starting a business—continued to ease business start-up procedures. It also enhanced access to credit information, and expedited trade through a new electronic document submission system.

Algeria improved its construction permit administration and lowered the cost of transferring property, cut business taxes, and made courts more efficient. A private credit bureau opened in Morocco, and Tunisia strengthened investor protections and eased trade rules.

The top 10 global reformers include two from the Middle East and North Africa Egypt: the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Others include Rwanda, the top global reformer, Liberia, Colombia, Tajikistan, Moldova, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Belarus. Colombia and Egypt have been top global reformers in four of the past seven years.

Doing Business analyzes regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycles, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors. For example, it does not measure security, macroeconomic stability, corruption, skill level, or the strength of financial systems.

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), 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, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.

For more information about the Doing Business report series, please visit:
www.doingbusiness.org

For more information on Doing Business 2010, please contact:
Nadine Ghannam +1 (202) 473-3011           Rebecca Ong +1 (202) 458-0434
E-mail: nsghannam@ifc.org                          E-mail: rong@worldbank.org

Contacts for region-specific queries on Doing Business 2010:
Middle East and North Africa
Riham Mustafa +202 (2) 4691-4230              E-mail: rmustafa@ifc.org