Singapore, HK stay on top of World Bank business-friendly list

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 November, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong has retained its standing as one of the world's most business-friendly locations, given its streamlined procedures for starting and operating a company, the World Bank said yesterday.

It was ranked second in the World Bank's Doing Business 2011 report, maintaining its position from last year. Singapore took the top spot for the fifth year. 'It's not surprising, given that their track records have been impressive over the past several decades,' said David Cohen, a Singapore-based economist at Action Economics.

Singapore and Hong Kong have built their reputations on being transparent, internationally oriented economies. The report credited them as world leaders in facilitating the start of businesses, corporate compliance and cross-border trade settlements.

Hong Kong ranked first in the category for construction permits. While applications must be completed in person, relevant forms and zoning maps were available online now to simplify the process, the report said. There were just seven required procedures for securing construction permits in Hong Kong, compared with 37 in India.

Hong Kong was praised for not resting on its reputation and instead pushing through business reforms like abolishing a fuel tax on diesel and streamlining its commercial dispute resolution system.

'Hong Kong's success in offering one of the best business environments globally rests on continuous reforms despite its already established position as a leader,' said Geoffrey Walton, an official for International Finance Corp, a member of the World Bank Group.

The business-friendly reputations of Hong Kong and Singapore should help them capitalise on investor interest in adding exposure to regional economic growth, Cohen said.

'They can ride the wave,' he said. 'International businesses are looking to participate and [will] look at places like Singapore and Hong Kong to link up with the Asian region.'