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5 Countries to Start a Business In

While it makes sense for most people to set up a business in their home territories, some savvy (or adventurous) teams have opted to take their operations overseas. Relative political and societal stability, low tax rates, relaxed regulations: these are just a few reasons why people flock to various countries to set up their business.

Which of these regions have been identified as among the best places to set up a business, and why? We take a look at some of these places!

United States

The United States came out top on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018. (Page 33). This report ranked each country based on the cost and speed of starting a business in each country, as well as attitudes toward risk, and the willingness of companies to embrace disruptive ideas. The 2018 report describes them as “the closest economy to the frontier, the ideal state, where a country would obtain the perfect score on every component of the index.”

In particular, United States led the Business dynamism pillar, which the report attributed to a vibrant entrepreneurial culture. It also ranked first on the Labour market (81.9), Financial system (92.1), and lost out on the top place for Market size only to China. However, prominent socio-economic issues such as unequal access to healthcare, weakening social fabric, and low checks & balances held it back from a higher score.

In terms of bureaucracy, it’s however a little more complicated. While still in the top 10 of the Ease of Doing Business report, its ranking slid slightly to make way for Georgia and Norway.

New Zealand

Source: Backpackerguide.nz (Link)

This small, unassuming region is famous for its gorgeous landscapes and reputation as the filming location for The Lord of the Rings. However, this place is secretly the best place to do business in the world, according to the 2018 Doing Business report by World Bank. The report measures how easy (or difficult) business regulations and processes make it for one to start their company. The report specifically “focuses on key areas of interaction between the government and entrepreneurs, where policy makers and regulators can directly influence procedures to facilitate these interactions.”

The ease of starting a business (just half a day at low costs), securing credit, and protection of minority invested have helped New Zealand contribute to its top spot on the list.



Source: Pexels

This country is one of the world’s wealthiest countries and is well known for its neutrality in world affairs, making it a safe country to do business in. Add on low unemployment rates, skilled labour, one of the highest GDPs in the world, and it’s not difficult to see how Switzerland has cemented its reputation as an economically stable region. Its achievements have helped it top the U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Countries” rankings.

The downside? Switzerland is really, really expensive to live in.

Switzerland is also one of the more blockchain-friendly countries, particularly “Crypto Valley”, located in Zug. The Swiss Parliament recently voted in favour of crypto regulations to tackle issues like money laundering, extortion, and fraud.

Hong Kong

Source: Pexels

Hong Kong has a longtime reputation of being a high-performing, free economy overall. The Special Administrative Region came in first for the Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage Foundation. Edwin Feulner noted that political pressure from mainland China could be a cause for concern, however.

Hong Kong is also 4thon World Bank’s list of easiest places to do business, an improvement from 5thplace the year before, and just a little behind Singapore. It shone in the areas of construction permits, paying taxes, getting electricity, and starting a business.

Its next-door neighbor, mainland China, is fast catching up too. Mainland China shot up 32 places to clinch the 46thplace in the Ease of Doing Business report, owing to “impressive reform agendas”.

Our Top Pick: Singapore

Source: Pexels

Singapore barely missed out on the top position of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018. However, it has relatively low corporate tax rates and a stable economy. These have helped our sunny island to universally agreed on as one of the best places to do business.

In the report, Singapore was named as having the best performance overall in three categories: public-sector performance, which included government regulations and efficiency of dispute resolutions; property rights, and corporate governance. The report highlighted Skills, Business dynamism, and Innovation capability as areas of improvement. While Singapore’s scores are still within the top 20 globally, they are coming in below 80.

Singapore also narrowly lost out on top place in the Ease of Doing Business report. However, the 2018 report points out that resolving a commercial dispute in Singapore’s courts takes one of the shortest times in the whole world.



Source: M.Peinado | Flickr

If you’re venturing specifically into blockchain, Malta is one region that you will see a lot of. This island state is commonly known as “blockchain island” due to its liberal approach in blockchain startups. A number of prominent blockchain businesses such as Okex, Binance, and BitBay, have moved to Malta after facing regulatory difficulties in other countries.

However, blockchain firms are now reported to be struggling to open bank accounts in the region. The legal firms and financial companies said the nature of the companies themselves were “beyond their risk appetite”. International watchdogs have also reported that “the growth of blockchain in Malta has created major risks of money laundering and terrorism financing in the island’s economy”.

The future of doing business in this country appears to be somewhat of a question mark at the moment.

Where is your business at, and how is your experience? Share them with us!


World Atlas | Digital.com | Business Insider | Ease of Doing Business Report – 2019 | Bloomberg