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Singapore and Hong Kong once again rank the world’s best places to run a business according to the World Bank’s annual competitiveness survey.

The Southeast Asian entrepots and finance centers topped the survey for the eighth straight year, with New Zealand, the United States and Denmark rounding out the top five, the same positions as a year ago.

The “Doing Business 2014” report said many countries are making it easier for people to start and run a local business, with low-income economies moving more quickly than larger ones to improve.

“Regulation is a reality from the beginning of a firm’s life to the end,” the report says. “Navigating it can be complex and costly.”

But in many areas, it added, “there has been remarkable progress in removing some of the biggest bureaucratic obstacles to private sector activity.”

The rankings focus on what a small or medium-sized business faces in its home country, as opposed to how a multinational giant would fare in the same environment.

The data was based on surveys of more than 10,000 professionals, mostly people who routinely help administer or give advice on legal and regulatory issues in a country.

The countries are scored on a range of issues, from how many days and procedures does it take to start a business, to the length of time to get a power hookup, to the ease of credit and the cost of exporting or importing a container.
Singapore ranks as one of the world’s best places to run a business, according to a World Bank survey

Countries credited with progressing the most in the past five years include Rwanda (ranked 32), Russia (92), Ukraine (112) and the Philippines (108).

Removing barriers to business is a key way governments can grow their economies and increase the wealth of their populations.

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