Israel has been ranked as the easiest country with which to do and start business in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the "Doing Business 2007: How to reform" survey conducted by the World Bank Group.
In the report, which benchmarks regulatory performance and reforms in 175 nations, Israel is at the top followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates of the Middle Eastern countries surveyed.
Globally, Israel ranked 26th as it did last time, while Singapore took first place as the most business-friendly economy. New Zealand moved to second place after two years at the top spot.
Statistics for Israel showed that it takes five procedures and 34 days to open a business in Israel, compared to the OECD average of 6.2 procedures and 16.6 days.
Registering property proved to be lagging in Israel, taking 144 days against the average of 31.8 days in OECD countries, while the degree to which investors are protected through disclosure of ownership and financial information was well above average, scoring the maximum points on the disclosure index.
The report factored in numerous indicators to arrive at each country's profile, including the difficulty in starting a business, where Israel ranked 15th globally, compared with 12th last time. In the category regarding the ease with which property can be registered and transferred, Israel fell from 145th in 2005 to 150th this year. In the protection provided to investors category, Israel managed to keep fifth place.
Georgia was named as the top reformer, improving in 6 out of the 10 areas reviewed by the World Bank report, while jumping to 37th in the ranking concerning the ease of doing business, from 112th in 2004.
Georgia reduced the minimum capital required to start a business, speeded up customs, licensing, and court procedures, and made labor regulation more flexible.
Business registrations there rose by 55% between 2005 and 2006 and unemployment fell by 2 percentage points.