New Zealand has topped the World Bank’s ranking of the best countries to start and run a business in 2018, ahead of Singapore, Denmark and Hong Kong.
The World Bank said New Zealand had retained its position in its Doing Business report ahead of 190 other countries, despite not implementing any reforms in the last year.
The UK slipped to ninth place while Norway climbed to seventh in a year when the World Bank said governments pressed ahead with a record number of reforms to business regulations and tax rules to support private businesses.
Georgia, the former Soviet satellite state, retained its position at number six in the rankings, despite persistent criticism from aid agencies that the World Bank was rewarding a country with high levels of inequality, showing that a business-friendly environment is not in and of itself a means of alleviating poverty.
Macedonia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Mauritius are also among the business-friendly countries in the World Bank’s top 20 that rank among the highest in Oxfam’s list of unequal nations.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development criticised Mauritius last year for acting as a tax haven and leaching tax revenues from mainland African nations. Singapore, often held up as a model for post-Brexit Britain, recently topped Oxfam’s list of unequal nations.
The World Bank Group’s president, Jim Yong Kim, said the private sector played an important role in “creating sustainable economic growth and ending poverty around the world”.
“Fair, efficient, and transparent rules, which Doing Business promotes, are the bedrock of a vibrant economy and entrepreneurship environment,” he said. “It’s critical for governments to accelerate efforts to create the conditions for private enterprise to thrive and communities to prosper.”