East Asian economies - Singapore and Hong Kong SAR - occupied the top two positions in the Enabling Trade Index (ETI) ranking, followed by Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released on Tuesday in the Global Enabling Trade Report 2009.

The results mirror the openness of Singapore and Hong Kong SAR to international trade and investment as part of their successful economic development strategy, said the report.

Both economies have put into place highly efficient border administrations and supportive business environments. They are endowed with well-developed transport and telecommunications infrastructures ensuring rapid transit to final destination. These attributes are further supported by business environments that are conducive to trade.

According to the report, Canada, Norway, Finland, Austria and the Netherlands complete the top-10 list. The United States comes in 16th and People's Republic of China 49th.

The US position is weakened by restricted access to markets and concerns about costs to business resulting from crime, violence and terrorism, said the report. The United States benefits from a conducive business environment, as well as excellent infrastructure, it added.

According to the report, China performs well with respect to transport services and has swift import-export procedures, but trade development is held back by highly restricted access to its markets.

The publication of World Economic Enabling Trade Report is very timely as it helps to highlight the obstacles that are impediments to Global Trade. said Scott Davis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer UPS.

The world will not emerge from the current recession without a reliance on global Trade. Global Trade is one of the most important tools we have to lift us out of the economic crisis. Davis added.

The report serves as a timely reminder of the risks of protectionism and of the widespread prosperity and poverty reduction associated with the expansion of international trade in the years leading up to 2008.

In order to fully reap the benefits of globalization, governments need to adopt stable and trade-friendly policies. said Peter Bakker, CEO, TNT .

The Enabling Trade Report, with its in-depth and comprehensive overview of trade barriers, should help governments around the world to identify areas of improvement and action. Bakker noted.

The current challenge is to ensure not only that countries not pull each other down further by restraining trade, but that they help recovery by trading with each other. said Robert Z. Lawrence, Albert L. Williams Professor of Trade and Investment at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University,

Further enabling trade across borders can mitigate the effect of the global crisis, as measures facilitating trade will reduce the transaction cost of trade and therefore partially offset the effects of the demand slump. The Enabling Trade Index provides guidance on measures that need to be taken. Lawrence, also academic adviser and co-editor of the report said in an interview.

The Global Enabling Trade Report 2009 includes the most current data and recent analysis of the factors enabling trade in industrialized and emerging economies, as well as the latest thinking and research from trade experts and industry practitioners. The report measures and analyzes institutions, policies, and services enabling trade in national economies around the world, highlighting for policymakers a country's strengths and the challenges to be addressed.