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Doing Business in the Arab World 2009: Tunisia is doing well but in trading across borders

A new report finds that doing business is becoming easier in the Arab world. Doing Business in the Arab World 2009 examines the business regulatory environment of 20 Arab economies within the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past year (June 2007 to June 2008), 13 Arab economies introduced an impressive 31 reforms — 29 of which made it easier to do business while 2 made it harder.

Tunisia is reported as doing well in “staring a business, getting credit, protecting investors and paying taxes» unlike trading across borders where its record seems poor.

The most dramatic regulatory reforms in the Arab World make it easier to start a business by reducing the time, number of procedures and costs associated with start-ups. Specifically, from June 2007 to June 2008, 10 of the 20 Arab economies examined simplified their start-up procedures and reduced costs. For example, Tunisia and Yemen eliminated the minimum capital requirement for starting a business, while Jordan reduced it by more than 96%. The report finds: “Yemen’s move is one of the boldest reforms this year as its minimum capital requirement was among the highest in the world.”

In its 2009 reports, Doing Business also analyzes reform trends over the past 5 years, when possible.* Once again, starting a business is the top area of reform in the Arab World for the 5 year period tracked, with reforms seen in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen. The next most popular areas of reform during this period are in getting credit (information) and easing trade across borders.

Among the systematic reformers over the past 5 years, Egypt and Saudi Arabia stand out. Both countries reformed for 4 consecutive years in 6 Doing Business areas.

The report also finds that barriers to business remain in some areas. Within the Arab economies, there were no reforms related to enforcing contracts, employing workers or in getting credit (legal rights).

Doing Business in the Arab World 2009 includes 20 Arab economies: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen. The report is co-sponsored by the Arab Monetary Fund, World Bank, and International Finance Corporation. It was launched on Nov. 10, 2008, in Abu Dhabi at a conference hosted by the Arab Monetary Fund with the objective of examining the business environment in the Arab World.

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