World Bank keeps business friendliness rating despite criticism

Fri Jun 7, 2013 5:59pm EDT
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By Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank on Friday said it intends to keep ranking nations on the ease of conducting business, despite criticism from countries like China that feel the scorecard unfairly stigmatizes fast-growing developing economies.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the Bank is committed to keeping its flagship "Doing Business" report, including the rating, which compares the ease of starting and conducting a business in 185 countries.

The decision to keep the rankings was seen as a test case for Kim, at the helm of the global development lender for nearly a year, on how he will balance competing priorities from World Bank board members.

"The World Bank Group's work on business climate development, including the Doing Business report, is core to our mission of ending poverty, and in fact we expect it to grow," Kim said in a statement. "I am committed to the Doing Business report, and rankings have been part of its success."

The report is prepared by the bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation. It has become one of the bank's most popular publications since it began in 2003.

Smaller developing countries often use the report to show outside investors how much they've improved their business environment. Government officials may use it as an incentive to promote business-friendly legal changes, such as eliminating red tape.

"We believe that the Doing Business country rankings serve as an important benchmarking tool at a time when all of us are focused on supporting demand and job creation," a U.S. Treasury official said in a statement. The United States, which is ranked number four, has said it supports the report and its ratings.

Others have criticized the report's methodology and said it has a bias against all regulations, including protections for workers.   Continued...

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, answers a reporter's question during an interview with Reuters aside of the 66th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva May 21, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse