March 21, 2024

Singapore, Denmark and the US Are Predicted to Have the Best Business Environment From 2024–28

The Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) business environment index measures the attractiveness of the business environment in 82 countries and territories, examining 91 indicators spread across 11 different categories. According to the latest business environment index, "Singapore, Denmark and the US will be the three geographies with the best business environment over the next five years." What is more, as reflected in the chart below, "Several west European economies, alongside Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand, make up the remaining top ten best places in the world to do business. These are all advanced economies and long-standing strong performers in our index, so tend to be safe bets for investments. However, both headline and per capita GDP growth rates are likely to be fairly stable and slow."

The EIU also explains, through the image below, "geographies that see the biggest improvements in score in our index in the next five years (2024-28) compared with the past five years (2019-23). These are not the same economies that will see the fastest real GDP growth in 2024-28—although Qatar and India will grow very strongly—rather, they are places where we expect the most significant policy improvements, infrastructure investment or growth in market opportunities." The UK-based organization adds that its "model suggests that their improvement in our business environment index may subsequently result in an uptick in per-head growth in real GDP, investment spending and FDI."

Regarding those countries already in the EIU's index that scored strongly, the report points out that "Qatar has implemented a US$220bn investment program over the past decade, mainly focused on infrastructure. Its business environment has benefited from the expansion of Hamad International Airport, the road network and tourism infrastructure." Furthermore, Lithuania has long been open to trade and investment, but a major tax reform will soon make it more attractive by extending corporate tax relief and shifting the tax burden away from labor. Greece sees the biggest improvement in the business environment in our index over this period. This reflects the impact of a pro-business government, led by the New Democracy party, now in its second term, that has undertaken reforms, cut taxes and boosted business confidence."

With respect to the world's most populous nation, the EIU says "India is the only single-country market that offers a potential scale comparable to that of China." The South Asia country's "youthful demographic profile promises both strong demand and good labor availability. Alongside solid economic fundamentals, digital infrastructure and favorable demographics, more policy support is being introduced to attract manufacturing investment."

Other geographies further down the EIU's ranking where they expect a strong improvement include Serbia, which "has seen a virtuous circle from its openness to FDI in the past, which has driven growth and attracted further investment, including in higher-value-added sectors. A recent strengthening of macroeconomic policy and institutions supports market stability."

Moreover, "Argentina's sharp improvement in score largely reflects the free-market reforms that we believe the administration of the president, Javier Milei, will introduce—in particular, policies to boost private enterprise and competition and attract foreign investment. In the Dominican Republic, the current Abinader administration, which we expect to be re-elected in May, will continue its business friendly policies. It is encouraging investment into the tourism sector (for example with port upgrades for cruise ships), and improving logistics infrastructure to become a regional transport and distribution hub.

Places with weak business environments but potential for improvement include Kenya, Angola, and Venezuela. As the EIU explains:
Kenya passed a Privatization Act in 2023, which will help to trim the state’s excessively large economic footprint while boosting the private sector. Angola, while close to the bottom of our rankings, is arguably a better place to do business than five years ago, with the Lourenço administration using its improved ties with the US to revamp key legislation, bringing the country's financial sector into line with international standards and reducing the tax burden on the non-oil sector. In contrast, Venezuela is the worst ranked in our index, and will remain so despite a slight improvement after its painful economic collapse.
As I have stated previously on this forum, Southeast Asia has one of the world's most attractive business environment. Among the ten members of the Association of South‑East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the EIU highlights Thailand as a market that "saw a notable improvement in our business environment index in 2021-22, followed by an acceleration in growth in real GDP per head in 2022-23." The report says Thailand was among the first movers in ASEAN "to give special incentives to invest in electric vehicles and green industries. At the same time, many infrastructure projects were being finished—notably the mass transit expansion in the capital, Bangkok—or under way, including as part of the country's Eastern Economic Corridor megadevelopment project." The report adds that "Thailand has benefited from—and encouraged, with preferential policies—the China+1 trend as investors seek to diversify away from China, often towards India and ASEAN."

Do you find this report helpful in determining which countries to invest in or avoid?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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