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UAE tops Mena in business ease

The UAE's ranking in the World Bank's "Ease of Starting Business Index" has jumped from 46 in 2012 to 22 in 2013.

By Wam

Given its smooth procedures and simple tax system, the UAE has emerged as the easiest place in the Arab world for starting investment projects, according to the World Bank.

In its "Ease of Starting Business Index" for 2013, the Washington-based bank ranked the UAE  22nd in the world and first in the Arab region. It noted that the country, the second largest Arab economy, jumped from the 46th rank in 2012.

The index, part of the "Ease of Doing Business Index" covering 185 countries, also classified the UAE as the top nation in the world in terms of paying taxes after it was ranked seventh in 2012. The tax sub-index covered total number of tax years, labour tax, total tax rate to profits, time needed to pay tax and profit tax, which was put at zero, indicating the UAE does not impose taxes on corporate earnings.

The index, published in the latest monthly bulletin of the Kuwaiti-based Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation (IAIGC), showed the UAE was ranked 13th in the world in terms of dealing with construction permits, seventh in getting electricity for the project, and fifth in trading across borders.

The report noted that UAE officials have spoken of measures to further improve the investment climate, expedite procedures, allow full foreign ownership and issue a landmark debt law. The Ministry of Finance said last month the debt law, which will also tackle bankruptcy, has been drafted and would be approved soon.

IAIGC's report showed Egypt was ranked second in the Arab world by ease of starting business, following by Morocco, Tunisia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar. Yemen was ranked 10th in the region followed by Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, Kuwait, Algeria, Mauritania, Iraq, Palestine and Djibouti.

"The World Bank's 2013 ease of staring business index showed that there was not a single Arab country among the 20 top nations," IAIGC said.

"Three Arab states succeeded in moving ahead in the index, mainly the UAE which jumped 24 points to take the 22nd position, the other two are Morocco and Sudan."

The report showed Singapore got the top ranking in that index, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Britain, South Korea, Georgia, Australia and Finland.

The lowest rankings in the index were given to three African countries-- the Central African Republic (185), Chad (184) and Congo (183).