December 12, 2013 | Valerie Wong
When it comes to business superpowers, the United States is still in top position. After all, many of the world's largest companies, such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Microsoft and McDonald's began their operations there before becoming the multinationals that they are in today's time. Even after the effects of the recent economic downturn, the USA still remains a good place to do business in general. Getting the necessary paperwork and permits to start a company is easier than ever, access to credit and banking facilities remains strong, and so is the country's overall infrastructure.
But anyone taking a closer look at the world's changing business climate would notice that there are a few other challengers that are now appearing for the title of business superpower. These challengers are mainly based in Asia. A few years ago, when one thought about business in the Asian continent, the first country that would come to mind would probably be Japan. Even though Japan still holds, and is expected to hold for the foreseeable future, a key position in the Asian business world, a few other countries are beginning to rise to prominence.
These are South East Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Currently, the strongest country in the region would be Singapore. It has a very strong economy that continues to grow year after year, combined with a relatively high average income for its citizens, which gives them a living standard comparable to that in the Western world. To find out why many are predicting that Singapore will soon become one of the world's business superpowers, one just has to read the World Bank's most recent “Ease of Doing Business Report.”
This report compares various countries for rankings such as the ease of starting a business, obtaining construction permits, getting electricity to a newly built structure, obtaining credit, the efficiency of the justice system in protecting investors and enforcing contracts, as well as the ease of doing trade across the nation's borders. For the years 2013 and 2014, Singapore was ranked number one for the overall ease of doing business in the country. This means that for entrepreneurs and investors, conducting business in Singapore would be easier than in the USA and Europe.
While Singapore may be doing great, other countries in the region are starting to catch up. A recent Wall Street Journal report on Malaysia shows that the country has made significant progress in the last few years with regards to its overall business climate and economy. As far as the Doing Business Report is concerned, Malaysia jumped from 12th place in 2013 to 6th place for the 2014 edition. The reason behind this progress is that the government has taken the necessary action in order to alleviate the burden for those who want to conduct business in the country. Fees for registering a corporation have been lowered and the procedure was made more efficient. Plus, the procedures to obtain an electricity connection and construction permit were simplified as well.
As standards of living and income levels rise, many citizens of Asian countries are turning to entrepreneurship. But it's not just locals that are fueling this business growth. In fact, a growing number of foreigners are setting up shop in Asia in order to start a new business, purchase one that was already running, or expand their current company's reach into Asian markets by setting up a location on the continent. It is difficult to predict exactly when the new Asian business superpowers will emerge or who will come out on top. But one thing that is certain is that Asia is now taking a bigger than ever place in the global business world.
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