The Asian Development Bank has recommended the Cook Islands recognise de-facto relationships, as part of advancing gender equality.
The ADB launched its Private Sector Assessment in the Cook Islands, which looks at what hindrances there are on private sector development.
Its regional director of the Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office, Dr Andrea Iffland, says it has eight reform recommendations that will help make it easier to start or expand a business in the Cook Islands.
She says one of those recommendations is for gender equality to be advanced.
"By continuing to improve and implement the national gender action plan, investing in initiatives to support women in business, working to end violence against women, and recognising de-facto relationships, which came as a surprise that this hasn't actually happened here yet."
Other recommendations include improving the business entry process, developing an electronic companies registry and improving foreign worker permit processes and protections.