Eastern European countries are leading the way when it comes to cutting red tape and supporting new business, according to a World Bank report.
The World Bank says better regulations encourage business
Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Romania topped the global rankings for the number of business reforms enacted.
However, in overall terms, New Zealand was the easiest place to launch and run a new business, the World Bank said.
Singapore, the US and Britain also fared well, but African nations proved the most difficult for entrepreneurs.
The World Bank praised countries in Eastern Europe for the measures they had taken to streamline business regulations and taxes.
Hong Kong (China)
Source: World Bank report
"Five of the top reformers were from Eastern Europe, led by Serbia and Montenegro," said Michael Klein, the bank's vice-president for private sector development.
"From setting up a business, through dealing better with construction licenses, improving property registration, hiring new workers, to paying taxes, contract enforcement and bankruptcy and access to credit - Serbia and Montenegro covered the waterfront."
Much of the drive for reform was spurred by the integration into the European Union in May last year of 10, mostly former communist, new member states.
But while singled out as a leading reformer, Serbia and Montenegro - which is not an EU member - was ranked 92nd in the World Bank's index of the easiest places to do business.
The World Bank's annual report, Doing Business 2006: Creating Jobs, provides a global ranking of 155 nations based on key regulations and reforms.
The report aims to show which are the best countries in the world to start and run a new business, focusing on factors such as tax costs, credit access and property rules.
"Jobs are a priority for every country," said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. "Doing more to improve regulation and help entrepreneurs is the key to creating jobs - and more growth."
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic were ranked at the bottom of the report's Ease of Doing Business Index.
Among the emerging market economies, China was ranked at 91, Indonesia 115 and India 116.
Although ranked at 139, Rwanda was praised among African nations for making efforts to improve its business environment.
But the report highlighted Sierra Leone, where full payment of business taxes would swallow up 164% of a company's gross profit.
"Many African countries that desperately need new enterprises and jobs risk falling even further behind other countries that are simplifying regulation and making their investment climates more business friendly," Mr Klein warned.