Singapore and Hong Kong are the two most trade-conducive economies, the World Economic Forum said on Tuesday in a study that placed the United States in 16th place, its performance affected by fears of crime and terrorism.
The WEF said in its Global Enabling Trade Report that Singapore and Hong Kong, in addition to offering a trade-friendly business environment, “are endowed with well-developed transport and telecommunications infrastructures ensuring rapid transit to final destinations”.
The report, published for the second time and covering 121 economies, assesses institutions, policies and services that facilitate the flow of goods across national borders.
The top 10 economies on the WEF’s Enabling Trade Index after Singapore and Hong Kong are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Finland, Austria and the Netherlands.
The report described the US performance as “uneven”, with the country getting high marks for its transportation infrastructure and the efficiency of its customs administration and export and import procedures.
“On a less positive note,” the report said, “the business environment is less attractive than it could be.”
“Among other issues, businesses voice their concern about the level of security and indicate that the threat of terrorism and crime and violence impose significant costs.” The report also cited “restricted access to markets” in the United States.
Japan, in 23rd place, also scores well for its transportation services but suffers from “high barriers to market access in domestic and foreign markets, as reflected in the high tariffs on agricultural products and the complexity of tariffs, as well as barriers faced when exporting to foreign markets”.
In China, ranked 49th, “imports are still significantly inhibited by tariff barriers,” the report found. China could also do with improvements in its air transport network and regulatory environment.
The Geneva-based World Economic Forum is an independent international organisation that promotes research and dialogue among business and government leaders. It organises an annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos which draws business and political leaders.
Source : Channel NewsAsia – 8 Jul 2009