WASHINGTON, October 27, 2015 – The pace
of business regulatory reforms picked up during the past year in the
Middle East and North Africa, despite conflict and turmoil in the region,
says the World Bank Group’s annual ease of doing business measurement.
Released today, Doing Business 2016:
Measuring Regulatory Quality and Efficiency finds that 11 of the
region’s 20 economies implemented a total of 21 reforms facilitating the
ease of doing business. This is a significant increase compared to the
annual average of 16 reforms during the past five years.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the region’s
top ranked economy, with a global ranking of 31, while countries experiencing
conflict and violence are amongst the world’s lowest ranked, including
Iraq (ranked 161), Libya (188), Syria (175) and Yemen (170) .
“Despite the turmoil in several economies
in the Middle East and North Africa, the pace of business reforms activity
in the region is encouraging,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the
Doing Business project “There is a lot of room for improvement,
however. The share of economies reforming in the region remains lower than
the global average, and Getting Credit is harder in the Middle East and
North Africa than anywhere else, partly due to the absence of comprehensive
credit bureaus that provide information relevant for assessing credit-worthiness.”
Morocco and the UAE continue to lead the
region in reform activity as both economies undertook four reforms each
during the past year. Morocco made Starting a Business easier by eliminating
the need to file a declaration of business incorporation with the Ministry
of Labor. The UAE was the only economy in the region that reformed in the
area of Enforcing Contracts. As a result, commercial disputes in the UAE
are now resolved in 495 days, which is less than the average of 538 days
in the high-income Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Both Saudi Arabia and Oman improved the most
globally in the areas of Registering Property and Getting Electricity,
respectively. Saudi Arabia introduced a new computerized land registry
system. It now takes an entrepreneur only six days to register property
in Saudi Arabia, faster than in the Republic of Korea. Oman enhanced its
measurements and tracking of power outages, making it is easier to assess
the reliability of the electrical grid and its effect on the productivity
Economies in the region carried out the most
reforms in the area of Getting Electricity (4 reforms), followed by Starting
a Business (3), Dealing with Construction Permits (3) and Trading Across
Challenges, however, remain in a number of
areas. For example, on Starting a Business, it costs an average of 26 percent
of income per capita for local entrepreneurs to start their business, compared
to 3 percent in the OECD.
This year’s Doing Business report
completes a two-year effort to expand benchmarks that measure the quality
of regulation, as well as the efficiency of the business regulatory framework,
in order to better capture realities on the ground. On the five indicators
that saw changes in this report – Dealing with Construction Permits, Getting
Electricity, Enforcing Contracts, Registering Property and Trading Across
Borders – Middle East and North Africa economies do not perform well.
On Getting Electricity, for instance, the new dataset finds that several
regional economies face either frequent outages or do not track them adequately.
Ranks of other large economies in the region
are Algeria (163), Egypt (131), Iran (118), Morocco (75), Qatar (68), Saudi
Arabia (82) and Tunisia (74).
The full report and accompanying datasets
are available at http://www.doingbusiness.org/