Monday 25 September 2017

'Forbes' ranking boost puts us on a par with the major players

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE Government just couldn't be happier. We're leaving the bailout; Europe has heaped praise on us; Bank of Ireland is repaying its bailout money and now 'Forbes' has listed Ireland as the best country in the world in which to do business.

And Finance Minister Michael Noonan is in the UK with all this news as he charms investors.

Business bible 'Forbes' determines the best country for business by grading 145 nations on 11 different factors, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom – personal, trade and monetary – red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.

The data comes from a range of published reports from organisations as diverse as Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance and Transparency International.

But who else makes the cut, and which countries should businesses stay well away from?

Following hot on Ireland's footsteps are New Zealand, Hong Kong, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Singapore, Canada, Norway and the Netherlands. The UK came 12th.

Somewhat worryingly for President Barack Obama, the US continued its four-year slide to 14 after ranking second in 2009. America ranked number 12 last year. The magazine criticised the world's largest economy because of the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve, claiming it had distorted prices and risked long-term inflation.

WORSE

It ranks 80 out of 145 countries for monetary freedom. Only the UK fares worse among the top 50 countries. 'Forbes' said the US has also ramped up its rules on businesses.

"The Heritage Foundation cites more than 100 major new federal regulations on businesses since 2009 with an annual cost of $46bn," the magazine said.

It also criticised the US for its "excessive tax burden", which ranks at number 51.

"US statutory corporate tax rates are the highest in the world among developed countries, although tax breaks reduce the overall burden," it said.

"But an equally large problem is the complexity of the tax code. The World Bank says the typical medium-sized business requires 175 hours to comply with US tax laws."

New Zealand posted the best scores among all countries on four metrics including personal freedom and investor protection, as well as lack of red tape and corruption. Hong Kong ranks among the top five for investor protection, trade freedom, tax burden and red tape.

Denmark and Sweden were, unsurprisingly, given the reputation of the Scandinavian countries, praised with having highly educated workforces with GDPs per capita among the highest in the world.

Denmark scored better for its lower tax burden and corruption, while Sweden ranked first overall when it came to technology and third for innovation.

Eurozone giant France was at 19th place, while Germany was ranked 24th.

But avoid the following, it seems, at all costs. Guinea ranked the least favourable country for businesses.

'Forbes' noted that the country has almost half of the world's bauxite reserves and significant iron ore, gold and diamond reserves. But it said it had been unable to profit from this because of rampant corruption, dilapidated infrastructure and political uncertainty.

The Central African state of Chad was ranked in 144th place with the magazine saying that the country's investment climate remained challenging due to limited infrastructure, a lack of trained workers, extensive government bureaucracy, and corruption.

Irish Independent

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