Jamaica has once again topped the Commonwealth Caribbean as the easiest place in which to do business, according to the recently released World Bank Doing Business Report 2017. This flagship annual index measures and benchmarks countries around the world on the ease in which a hypothetical local entrepreneur can open and run a small to medium-size business when complying with relevant regulations.
Economies are ranked on 11 regulatory areas reflecting the life cycle of a business, namely starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and labor market regulation. A total of 190 economies were included in this year’s index.
Jamaica had an overall rank of 67th, down 2 places from its ranking of 65th on the 2016 index. The World Bank noted that both Jamaica and Grenada “made significant upgrades to their electronic platforms, resulting in a substantial decrease in the time required for international trade processes”. The World Bank also praised Jamaica for making tax paying less costly by increasing tax depreciation rates and the initial capital allowance for assets acquired on or after January 1, 2014. Those reforms earned the country a leap of 39 places on the “paying taxes” indicator.
However, one criticism made by the World Bank was of Jamaica’s removal of the ability to complete next-day company incorporation which the Bank argued made starting a business more difficult. Outside of the indicators “paying taxes” and “trading borders”, the island saw slippage in its rankings on all other indicators. Its most precipitous fall was in its ranking on “getting electricity” where it slipped 20 places to 101st place.
Other Caribbean Countries’ Performance
Overall, Puerto Rico was the highest ranked economy in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region with a rank of 55th, up one place from its rank of 56th in the 2016 index. Honourable mention must be made of Guyana which rose 16 places to 124th place. The Dominican Republic retained its 103rd rank.
All other Caribbean countries saw declines from their 2016 rankings. The biggest decline was St. Lucia which dropped 8 places to 86th from 78th in 2016.
The rankings of all Caribbean countries are as follows:
On a global scale, the top 5 easiest places in which to do business were as follows: New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea. The bottom 5 economies were South Sudan, Venezuela, Libya, Eritrea and Somalia.
The full Doing Business 2017 report may be accessed here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.