Washington: Singapore is the best country to do business, according to the World Bank's latest ranking released Thursday.
Hong Kong came in second and New Zealand third, while Britain and the US rounded out the top five, according to the World Bank's Doing Business report. Kazakhstan was rated the country that had most improved business conditions since the last study in 2009.
The financial crisis of the past two years had also pushed some countries to free up business regulations in order to jump-start their private sectors, according to Neil Gregory, director of global indicators and analysis at the World Bank.
The economies most affected by the financial crisis especially in Eastern Europe have been targeting regulatory reforms over the past year to make it easier for small and medium-size enterprises to recover and to create jobs, Gregory said.
About one third of the 30 countries that had shown the most progress were in Africa, and the pace of reforms was also picking up more generally in developing and emerging economies.
The World Bank found that two thirds of developing countries had made improvements in the research period, which ran from June 2009 to May 2010, compared with just one third making progress six years ago.
The study evaluated the regulations that companies confront in their daily business dealings. It found that 117 countries made a total of 216 reforms that made it easier for people to open businesses, improve transparency, strengthen private ownership and improve efficiency in the judicial system.
Despite the improvements, the World Bank found that businesses still have it easiest in rich countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The regulatory climate is toughest for companies in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.