Thailand rises high in World Bank ease of business rankings

The World Bank Group said Thailand is among the world’s top 10 reformers in improving the business climate and cited the Kingdom’s “immense progress” as it raised the country 22 places to 26th in the world in its latest ease of doing business rankings released last week.

“Thailand has made immense progress in doing business reforms this past year, with strong government leadership at the highest levels,” said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Director for Thailand, Malaysia and Regional Partnerships. “With its 26th place ranking, Thailand has risen into the top 15 percent of countries globally in the ease of doing business—a great achievement.’’Thailand was ranked 48th in the world last year.

The Kingdom made “tremendous strides,” a World Bank press release said, enacting and adopting eight major reforms during the past year, a record for the country in a single year, according to the Bank.

A drastic reduction in the time it takes to start a business was among the major improvements cited by the World Bank. By eliminating and reducing onerous regulations, businesses were able to register and receive the necessary approvals in an average of 4.5 days, down from an average of 27.5 days the year before.

Other improvements included the introduction of an automatic risk-based system for selecting companies for a tax audit, reducing the property transfer tax rate,and adopting legislation to broaden the scope of assets that can be used as collateral.

The higher ranking and fulsome praise from the World Bank provided vindication for the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, which came to power as the economy was sliding into a low-growth period and critics were questioning the administration’s understanding of business issue and its ability to manage the economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who oversees the economic ministries, vowed after last year’s report and rankings that Thailand would leapfrog many other countries when the next report came out. Somkid was targeting a ranking this year of somewhere between 30th and 39th place, so the results exceeded his expectations.

In a reflection of the improved ranking, the economic situation has been turning around this year as exports have regained strength and growth has begun to accelerate.

“We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Thailand in support of a strong business environment, and more good jobs for more people all across the country,” Zachau said

Thailand’s efforts to improve the business environment are far from over. The government is continuing systematic reforms, focusing on areas such as enforcing contracts, registering property, and paying taxes. The government would like to see Thailand in the top 20 in the ease of doing business rankings.

Thailand also took the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row for the best country to start a business according to US News published in March, topping advanced nations such as Singapore and global powerhouses such as Germany, South Korea and China. Thailand also finished among the top in the world in the category of Best Countries to Invest In, in Adventure, in Heritage, in Movers, as well as in Open for Business.

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