10 Sep 2009

High ranking for NZ in business survey

10:08 pm on 10 September 2009

New Zealand has retained its second-place position in a survey of the easiest countries to do business in.

The World Bank Group's 2010 business report ranks 183 economies on the overall ease of doing business, based on 10 indicators of business regulation.

It says the recession has prompted a huge number of countries to reduce red tape to spur the business community.

The top two places remain the same as last year, with New Zealand trailing Singapore, though the United States slipped one to fourth, replaced by Hong Kong. Australia remains ninth overall.

Looking at key indicators: New Zealand remains the easiest country in the world to start a business, using an online system to speed up and lower the cost of registering a company.

It inspired other countries, like China, Botswana and Malaysia, to visit New Zealand to learn more.

New Zealand is also first for protecting investors.

On ease of access to credit, NZ ranks eighth, ahead of Singapore and the US, but behind Australia in fourth place.

But in ease of trading across borders, New Zealand slipped from 23rd to 26th, while fees for building permits increased, though the World Bank says New Zealand is still one of the easiest countries in the world to do get approval.

The World Bank says the global recession has spurred a burst of activity by governments worldwide to make it easier to do business, to help alleviate the worst of the economic downturn and tighter credit conditions.

That saw the number of reforms jump 20 percent to a record 239 regulatory changes in the countries surveyed.

Most of the changes took place in low and middle income countries, including Rwanda and Egypt, Liberia, Moldova and Tajikstan.

NZ can do better - English

Finance Minister Bill English says New Zealand can do better in terms of its international business and economic competitiveness.

Mr English says the Government has launched a series of reviews aimed at cutting red tape to lift business confidence, which in turn flows through to investment and jobs.

The Government is currently reviewing 15 pieces of regulatory legislation, including the Resource Management Act, the Overseas Investment Act, the Building Act and legislation covering the electricity and telecommunications sectors.

Mr English says he would expect changes from those reviews, as they are implemented, to flow into the results of future surveys.