World Bank: UK 1 away from top 5 places to do business in the world


Good news for budding overseas businesses planning to trade from the UK with a London Virtual Office as World Bank ranks UK sixth in list of top business regulators.

According to the “Ease of Doing Business” report the UK is sixth out of 189 countries for business regulation, up from eighth last year and beating global powerhouses including the US, Germany and Japan.

The gov.uk website states that it is the UK government’s “continued commitment to de-regulate, make it easier to start and grow a business and establish a competitive tax environment [that] has pushed the UK up 2 places, from eighth last year.”

Government action to improve the ease of doing business includes:

  • A commitment to cut £10 billion of ‘red tape’ in order to back British business and put resources to more productive use.
  • Having the joint lowest corporate tax rate in the G20, to be cut further to 18% in 2020 (making it the lowest).
  • Raising the quantity of apprenticeships in England to 3 million starts by next parliament.
  • Investing £6.9 billion in UK research infrastructure up to 2021.
  • Building stronger trade links with emerging markets, especially China, India and Brazil.

What does this mean for foreign businesses looking to set up in Europe?

The report focuses "on regulation that affects domestic small and medium-size enterprises, operating in the largest business city of an economy" and as such makes for interesting reading in terms of its analysis on regulation efficiency; the report is not so much interested in the burdens and merits of "red tape" as in the timescale and ease of negotiating the inevitable bureaucracy that follows the creation of a business venture.

The UK clearly stands out as the strongest attraction from a European perspective despite Denmark coming ahead in 3rd place: London is the financial centre of the world and a locus for investment, trade and culture. Copenhagen, despite its riches, can't really compete on that front. 

The list shows that Northern Europe appears to have the most business friendly procedural system with the three other Scandinavian countries making the top ten, pushing Germany into 15th. As the report says: "efficiency and quality go hand in hand: economies that have efficient regulatory processes [...] also tend to have good regulatory quality". 

The report is reassuring for overseas companies looking to make a start in the UK with a London Virtual Office, where regulations processes by global financial centres are surpassed only by Singapore (1st) and Hong Kong (5th).