Doing business in Southeast Asia is easier than ever, says Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

Author: PM editorial | Date: 31 Aug 2016

Report by World Bank highlights regulatory reforms in Vietnam and Malaysia

Several Asia Pacific countries have made big improvements in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business index.

Vietnam in particular has brought in a raft of reforms in the past year that now make it a much more attractive location for employers establish a base.

There are five areas of improvement in the World Bank’s index that economic forum the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) drew attention to: starting a business; dealing with construction permits; getting credit; trading across borders; and enforcing contracts.

“Making processes efficient for organisations to set-up and reducing the amount of time it takes for entrepreneurs to meet these requirements encourages economic activity,” said APEC economic committee chair Rory McLeod. “When businesses can open quickly, economic growth ensues.”

Vietnam’s reforms include making it easier for organisations to pay tax by introducing electronic filing and reducing the number of procedures and documents needed for filing VAT and social security contributions. It also encouraged entrepreneurism by reducing the time required to get a company seal engraved and registered, as well as providing greater access to credit and simplifying the process for resolving insolvency issues.

Malaysia was also singled out for praise by the World Bank: “Among other economies introducing or enhancing electronic systems, Malaysia made electronic filing compulsory for contributions to the Employees Provident Fund by employers with 50 or more employees,” said the report.

“Malaysia’s largest electric utility company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, set up a web page with a bill calculator for residential, commercial and industrial connections—making it easy for customers to estimate their future electricity costs,” it continued.

The Ease of Doing Business index gave 189 countries a score out of 100. Singapore came out top overall, followed by Hong Kong in fifth place. Malaysia was ranked 18th, Thailand 49th, and Vietnam was 90th.