DUBAI: Saudi Arabia was the most improved country in ease of doing business, according to a latest report by the World Bank.
The Kingdom climbed 30 places to 62nd, the Doing Business report indicated, which was largely driven by reforms aimed at building more economic diversification.
The report ranked countries on their business climates, and found that the most improved countries over the previous year were in the Middle East – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
The World Bank said Saudi Arabia’s reforms included establishing a one-stop-shop for business registration, introducing a secured transactions law and an insolvency law, improving protections for minority investors, and measures to bring more women into the workforce.
“Something clearly is happening in the Gulf which has not happened before,” Simeon Djankov, World Bank senior research director and founder of the Doing Business report, told Reuters in Riyadh.
“Everybody here in this region figured out we better diversify the economy in some direction and I think this is actually why the reforms are happening now,” he added.
The report coincides with the scheduled appearance of World Bank President David Malpass at a Saudi investment conference next week. The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and presidential adviser Jared Kushner would also attend the conference.
“Removing barriers facing entrepreneurs generates better jobs, more tax revenues, and higher incomes, all of which are necessary to reduce poverty and raise living standards,” Malpass said in a statement.
The top 10 rankings in the survey were largely unchanged from a year ago, with New Zealand holding its top spot, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, South Korea, the United States, Georgia, Britain, Norway and Sweden.
Latin American countries lagged in the rankings, with Argentina falling seven places to 126th, and Mexico, the region’s highest-ranking economy, falling six spots to 60th.