Page last updated at 00:31 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 01:31 UK

UK is Europe's 'easiest economy'

G20 finance ministers
Economies have been busy introducing regulatory reforms

The UK is the fifth easiest economy in the world in which to conduct business, according to the World Bank.

It has moved up one place from last year in the bank's annual "Doing Business" survey, making it the best placed country in Europe.

Singapore retained the top spot, ahead of New Zealand, Hong Kong and the US.

The report found that a record 131 economies - more than 70% of those surveyed - reformed business regulation in 2008-9, amid the global downturn.

This is the largest share in any year since the report was launched in 2004.

'Significant improvement'

New Zealand
Hong Kong
United States
United Kingdom
Source: World Bank

It recorded 287 reforms between June 2008 and May 2009, up 20% from the previous year.

"Reformers around the world focused on making it easier to start and operate businesses, strengthening property rights, and improving commercial dispute resolution and bankruptcy procedures," the report said.

The world's top reformer of business regulation was Rwanda - the first time a sub-Saharan African economy has introduced the most reforms.

The report said most reforms were carried out in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Commenting on the report, Ian Lucas MP, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, said : "We have made some significant improvements in the last year, such as simplifying the process of issuing construction permits and making it easier to trade across borders."

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