The UAE continued to keep its lead in the Middle East and Arab region in the World Bank’s East of Doing Business ranking 2020 Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The UAE continued to keep its lead in the Middle East and Arab region in the World Bank’s East of Doing Business ranking 2020 with 16th position in the global ranking of 190 countries.

The country was ranked 11th position in the World Bank ranking in 2019. Despite a dip in the overall ranking, the UAE continue to keep its score high in key areas of the global ranking.

The World Bank report makes special mention of reforms undertook by the UAE last year such as making starting of a business less expensive by reducing the fees for business incorporation, easier construction permits by using a risk-based approach to reduce the number of inspections, improving minority investor protection, ease of paying taxes and making trading across borders easier by reducing the time to export by fully digitizing certificates of origin and the cost to import by issuing certificates of conformity that cover multiple shipments.

Inspiration for region

The World Bank report made a special mention of improvements across the GCC in business reforms and the role of UAE as an inspiration for its neighbourhood.

“The business regulatory reforms across the Gulf economies have been on a steady rise. These changes are motivated in part by the urgent need for economic diversification. Successful reforms in neighboring states, such as the United Arab Emirates, have also served as inspiration,” the report said

Saudi Arabia is the most improved economy in Doing Business 2020, with a total of eight reforms. “With a reformist mindset, the crown prince has implemented and promoted a policy of featuring the Kingdom as an open world-class investment destination. The Kingdom’s “Vision 2030” plan for long-term development encompasses a variety of legal and structural reforms,” said the report.

Top 10 reformers

Doing Business 2020 acknowledges top 10 economies that improved the most on the ease of doing business after implementing regulatory reforms.

In Doing Business 2020, the 10 top improvers are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China, India, and Nigeria. These economies implemented a total of 59 regulatory reforms in 2018/19— accounting for one-fifth of all the reforms recorded worldwide. Their efforts focused primarily on the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and trading across borders.

Jordan and Kuwait are new additions to the list of 10 most improved economies. Nigeria appears as one of the top-10 improvers for the second time.

India, which has conducted a remarkable reform effort, joins the list for the third year in a row. “Given the size of India’s economy, these reform efforts are particularly commendable. Bahrain implemented the highest number of regulatory reforms (nine), improving in almost every area measured by Doing Business. 7 China and Saudi Arabia follow Bahrain with eight reforms each,” the report said.

Global leaders

The Doing Business 2020 study shows that developing economies are catching up with developed economies in ease of doing business. Still, the gap remains wide.

“Doing Business is a valuable tool that governments can use to design sound regulatory policies. By giving policymakers a way to benchmark progress, it stimulates policy debate, both by exposing potential challenges and by identifying good practices and lessons learned,” said David R. Malpass, President, The World Bank Group said in his forward to the Doing Business 2020 report.

The ease of doing business ranking ranges from 1 to 190. The ranking of economies is determined by sorting the aggregate ease of doing business scores. The ease of doing business score measures an economy’s performance with respect to a measure of regulatory best practice across the entire sample of 41 indicators for 10 Doing Business topics.

In this year’s overall ranking New Zealand topped the list with an aggregate doing business score of 88.6 while Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark and Republic of Korea were among the top five ranking, respectively.