Why? What makes us less attractive than Chile and Belgium?
You might like to think we’re pretty pro-business here in the UK.
Last year saw a record number of new businesses start up (more than half a million).
London is arguably the world’s leading financial centre (vying with New York for the number one spot).
We consistently rank as among the world’s least corrupt countries.
We have great international transport links (five airports in London alone), we’re at the middle of the world’s time-zones for trading in international markets, and we’re incredibly multicultural.
We have the ninth most competitive economy in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest ranking, and the sixth largest economy by GDP, according to the World Bank, weighing in at more than $2.5 trillion.
Yet the UK comes in at only 21st place in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Business Environment Rankings, which looks at ease of doing business in 82 countries.
That’s behind New Zealand, Chile, and one place behind Malaysia.
Singapore holds the number one spot.
Why is the UK only 21st?
The ranking looks at criteria businesses use when assessing global strategies and expansion.
That takes into account: “politics, the economy, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise, openness to foreign investment, foreign-trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.”
But the EIU ranking doesn’t just look at the current business environment – it also accounts for how it expects the business and political landscape to look over the next five years.
And this is part of the reason the UK hasn’t fared particularly well in the ranking: the wider political situation in Europe has held many EU countries down the list.
“The impact of the debt crisis on political stability, economic stability and financing availability has meant that EU countries remain some way off the top of the EIU’s business environment rankings,” the report explains.
Yet Denmark and Finland have made the top 10, as you can see below.
The report doesn’t give analyses of individual countries, just wider regions.
But we might conclude that the uncertainty over our future government, the shadows over our EU membership, and successive actual and proposed changes to our tax regimes (albeit, in the case of corporation tax, favourable towards businesses during the coalition government) are contributing factors.
The financial crisis is also still a drag on our economic performance, and that of other countries.
The report explains that “the broader picture that has emerged from the index is that confidence in many countries has taken a battering [and] recovery will be a slow process.
“The economic environment will be affected by fiscal imbalances (mainly a result of weak growth).”
So which countries made the top 20?
Here are all the countries that beat us
- Hong Kong
- United States
- New Zealand
Singapore made the number one spot for its “efficient open economy”, the report said.
It’s topped the list for seven years in a row.