DUSHANBE, October 25, Asia-Plus - Tajikistan is currently second lowest on the Ease of Doing Business among the 28 countries covered in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a report by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said.

Thirty-eight reforms in 16 economies in the region reduced the time, cost, and hassle for businesses to comply with legal and administrative requirements. Spurred by recent or prospective accession to the European Union, Eastern Europe reformed more than any other region, including Western Europe and other OECD countries.

Doing Business 2007: How to Reform finds that Romania was the second most active reformer on the ease of doing business across 175 economies, implementing reforms to simplify business licensing and trading, easing access to credit, increasing labor market flexibility, and strengthening investor protection. Croatia was ranked seventh. The top 10 reformers are, in order, Georgia, Romania, Mexico, China, Peru, France, Croatia, Guatemala, Ghana, and Tanzania.

Doing Business 2007 also ranks 175 economies on the ease of doing business—covering 20 more economies than last year’s report. The top-ranked countries in Eastern Europe are Lithuania (16), Estonia (17), and Latvia (24), followed by Slovakia (36) and Romania (47).

The 30 economies that score the highest on the ease of doing business are, in order, Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong (China), the United Kingdom, Denmark, Australia, Norway, Ireland, Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Lithuania, Estonia, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Israel, St. Lucia, Chile, South Africa, and Austria.

The rankings track indicators of the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure. They do not track variables such as market size, macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions, or crime rates.

Tajikistan showed low investment climate reform momentum in 2005 and early 2006, according to the report.  This leads to large possibilities for an accelerated pace of reform in the future.  Tajikistan is currently second lowest on the Ease of Doing Business among the 28 countries covered in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  It was among the lowest ranked countries in the region in the areas of business start-up, obtaining credit, corporate governance, tax, and international trade.  However, work to modernize court rules is ongoing, which may improve the speed of court decisions.

The Doing Business project is based on the efforts of more than 5,000 local experts – business consultants, lawyers, accountants, government officials, and leading academics around the world, who provided methodological support and review.