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Singapore and Hong Kong ‘easiest’ places to do business

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Singapore is the easiest place in the world to do business, followed by New Zealand and Hong Kong, according to the World Bank’s annual report on the ease of doing business.

While Singapore has maintained its position at the top, New Zealand also crept up a spot to take the second place, while Hong Kong fell one place to third.

The ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 core indicators, such as starting a business, getting electricity, access to credit, and protecting minority investors.

The report found Singapore combines high efficiency and high quality, putting it in first place. For example, resolving a case-study standard commercial dispute takes only 21 procedures and 150 days, and costed 25.8% of the value of the claim.

The nation’s judicial system was also commended for its good practices, such as having a separate commercial court and making judgments available to the public.

It also launched an electronic litigation system that allows litigants to file their cases online, as well as keep litigants and lawyers informed about their cases through e-mail, text messages and text alerts.

As a result, Singapore ranked number one in two indicators – ‘enforcing contracts’ and ‘trading across borders’, while its lowest rank was 24, in ‘registering property’.

RELATED READ: Singapore breeds more new businesses in 2014

Third-ranked Hong Kong SAR strengthened its minority investor protections in the past year, by increasing disclosure requirements for related-party transactions.

Company directors are now required to provide more detailed disclosure of conflicts of interest to other board members. It also leads the way in the least number of procedures (5) involved in dealing with construction permits.

However, the country made starting a business more difficult by increasing the registration fee, which led to it being ranked eighth in ‘starting a business.’

RELATED READ: Expanding firms prefer China, Hong over Singapore

This year’s data showed that efficiency and quality go hand in hand.

“An economy’s success or failure depends on many variables; among these, often overlooked, are the nuts and bolts that facilitate enterprise and business,” said Kaushik Basu, senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank.

“By this I mean the regulations that determine how easy it is to start a business, the speed and efficiency with which contracts are enforced, the paperwork needed for trade, and so on.”

“Making improvements in these regulations is virtually costless, but it can play a transformative role in promoting growth and development.”

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