Easy business trend in emerging Europe

By Reuters Staff
October 23, 2012

Polish central bank governor Marek Belka doesn’t apportion a lot of importance to the fact that Poland can boast the second biggest improvement in the latest World Bank’s ease of doing business index, after Kosovo.

“This year we have improved, but I don’t care too much about it,”  Belka said at a meeting in London today.

Others do see a significant trend emerging from the data around Poland which paints an optimistic picture for those wishing to start and do business in Europe, but not necessarily in the developed markets.

As Charles Robertson, economist at Renaissance Capital, says in a note:

Emerging Europe has done the most to improve its rankings. Poland jumped 19 places, Ukraine rose 15 places, Mongolia increased 12, … Kazakhstan was up 7 places, Russia 6. Latin America has fallen back.

Armenia is on Poland’s heels as the world’s third most impressive upward mover, reaching 32nd place from last year’s 50th.

Uzbekistan is another climber in the 2013 index, albeit still lingering in the lower echelons of easy business on place 154.

Beating all of those, Kosovo jumped up more than anyone else, 28 places in total, making it into the top 100 on place 98 according the ranking (although the ranking’s website says Poland is the biggest mover, their data indicates it’s Kosovo).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, doing business in Yemen and Syria has become more difficult over the last year, with the latter tumbling 17 places to 118th.

Greece can hold its breath in the hope of attracting more business next year as it rose to 78th place, up 11 from 2012.

Georgia may have shifted away from its U.S. allies after awarding victory in parliamentary elections to a more Moscow-friendly coalition early in October, but it did make the top 10 in 2013.

“There’s even a little (and much needed) good news for South Africa which improved 2 places,” Robertson observes, pointing to it reaching place 39, in spite of prolonged labour unrest in the country’s large mining sector.

According to its website, the Doing Business Project “provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 185 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level”.

Robertson asks:

How cynical should you be about countries gaming the system and targeting improvements as defined by the World Bank? You should be a little cynical, but when Kazakhstan is in 49th place and Venezuela is in 180th place, I’d argue that the former has more chance of diversifying its economy.

Some countries will undoubtedly welcome improvements in their ranking, even if only as an advertisement indicating they are available for foreign investment.

By Shadia Nasralla

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