FORBES HAS been gauging the ‘business friendliness’ of the world’s biggest economies annually for the past 11 years. For this year, the magazine determined the ‘best countries for business’ by rating 139 nations on 11 different factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. Here are the top 10…
Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with its combination of free-market capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade.
Over the past 30 years, the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy, dependent on concessionary British market access, to a more industrialised, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes and broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector.
Hong Kong has a free market economy, highly dependent on international trade and finance—the value of goods and services trade, including the sizable share of re-exports, is about four times GDP. Hong Kong has no tariffs on imported goods, and it levies excise duties on only four commodities, whether imported or produced locally: hard alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, and methyl alcohol.
Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland was among the initial group of 12 EU nations that began circulating the euro on January 1, 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply during the world financial crisis and the subsequent collapse of its domestic property market and construction industry. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit from efforts to stabilise its fragile banking sector, the Irish government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009.
The UK, a leading trading power and financial centre, is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labour force. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, are key drivers of British GDP growth.
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This thoroughly modern market economy features a high-tech agricultural sector, advanced industry with world-leading firms in pharmaceuticals, maritime shipping and renewable energy, and a high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food, oil, and gas and enjoys a comfortable balance of payments surplus, but depends on imports of raw materials for the manufacturing sector.
The Netherlands, the sixth-largest economy in the European Union, plays an important role as a European transportation hub, with a persistently high trade surplus, stable industrial relations, and moderate unemployment. Industry focuses on food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery.
Finland has a highly industrialised, largely free-market economy with per capita GDP almost as high as that of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, or Sweden. Trade is important, with exports accounting for over one-third of GDP in recent years. Finland is historically competitive in manufacturing— principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries.
Norway’s has a stable economy with a vibrant private sector, a large state sector, and an extensive social safety net. Norway opted out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994; nonetheless, as a member of the European Economic Area, it contributes sizably to the EU budget. The country is richly endowed with natural resources in addition to oil and gas.
As a high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban.