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Hong Kong economy

Hong Kong climbs to No 4 on World Bank’s list of easiest places to do business

  • City improved from 5th place last year, but still lags New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark
  • Mainland China shoots up 32 places to 46th thanks to ‘impressive’ reform measures
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 8:55am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 8:54am

Hong Kong rose one place to fourth in the World Bank’s latest ranking of the easiest places to do business, while mainland China shot up 32 places to 46th.

For three years in a row, New Zealand topped the international financial body’s Doing Business Report, released on Wednesday, followed by Singapore and Denmark. Taiwan rose two places from 15th to 13th.

The report, introduced in 2003, measures the ease of doing business in 190 economies using 11 indicators on business regulation, such as how easy it is to start a business, deal with construction permits, trade across borders, protect minority investors, enforce contracts and secure credit.

Hong Kong performed best when it came to ease of dealing with construction permits (1), paying taxes (1), getting electricity (3) and starting a business (5). But it fell short in registering property (53), resolving insolvency (44), getting credit (32) and enforcing contracts (30).

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A Hong Kong government spokesman said the city’s improved ranking reflected “continuous enhancements in our business facilitation measures”.

“In the past 10 years, Hong Kong has maintained its position among the world’s top ranking economies in the report, re-affirming our favourable business environment for overseas companies to set up their regional headquarters and offices, and for all businesses to flourish,” the spokesman said.

He said the government would study the report carefully and continue to “work closely with the business sector and other stakeholders to reform the existing regulatory regimes”.

Regarding mainland China, the World Bank said the country demonstrated “impressive reform agendas” to improve the business regulatory environment.

China is the only economy from East Asia and the Pacific among the ranking’s top 10 climbers.

Ranking compilers cited examples such as initiatives taken by utility distribution companies in Beijing and Shanghai, which “significantly reduced the time to obtain a new electricity connection”.

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During the first half of 2018, they said, China introduced reform measures to streamline its construction permitting process by implementing unified platforms for all building review processes in Beijing and Shanghai. The changes also simplified documentation requirements, improved processing times, and expanded public access to information.

To facilitate cross-border trade, they said, China implemented a national trade single window linking the customs and tax administration, port authorities, the Ministry of Commerce and other agencies involved in the export and import processes.

Such efforts were shown by China’s ranking in the 10 factors, where getting electricity (14), dealing with construction permits (121) and trading across borders (65) saw the biggest improvement.