Fewer requirements, less paperwork, shorter waiting time: Those are some of the factors that have elevated several Latin American countries in the rankings of the best countries to do business, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2014 report.
Half of the countries in Latin America found a spot in the study, which showcases the world economies that have improved their business policies and made it easier for companies to grow in the last year. Some of them, like Mexico and Colombia, were expected to make the cut; others were a much-welcomed surprise, like Guatemala.
The Central American country, which came in 79th in the general ranking, scored in the top 10 of countries that made the most progress in policies in the last year. Guatemala made great strides forward in clearing the way for businesses, with an easier tax filing system and providing an online platform for all procedures, including registering a business and construction permits.
“To be within the 10 countries in the world that reformed the most is an honor, but also a promise to keep getting better,” said Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina.
Óscar Avalle, World Bank representative in the country, said Guatemala should take advantage of this reform boost and continue moving forward in business accessibility, particularly for small and medium size companies. “The country would therefore help in creating more legitimate jobs and reducing poverty,” he added.
Guatemala ranked 65th out of 184 in the International Monetary Fund’s list of poorest countries in the world, and third in Central America, closely behind Honduras and Nicaragua.
Colombia came in 43rd in the ease of doing business rank of the world, mostly because a slew of policy reforms that have been pushed by the government since 2005. The South American country has the goal of reducing the bureaucratic processes to open a business, pay taxes and, particularly, increase exports and foreign trade.
“Colombia is at its prime for foreign investment,” said Juan Carlos González, vice president of investment for Proexport, the Colombian government agency for trade, investment and tourism. “In 2012, we received an investment of $15 billion, a record for us. And we intend to keep attracting foreign companies to our shores.”
The second-largest economy in the region, Mexico, made the list at 53rd -- position that might improve in coming years as the reforms currently being discussed by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration start being put in practice.
Other Latin American countries that made the list are Chile (34), Peru (42) and Uruguay (88), in a ranking crowned by Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.