Nepal 121st from 96th as biz destination

Kathmandu, March 23:

Nepal slipped 25 places down to rank 121st on the list of the world’s best countries for business, compiled by the Forbes. Nepal lost ground in areas like property rights, innovation, technology, red tapism and personal freedom.

Nepal has moved down from its previous 96th position in Forbes’ annual list, which ranks 127 nations on the basis of business climate in a country for entrepreneurs, investors and workers. Denmark topped the chart — for the second consecutive year followed by the US that moved up from last year’s fourth position.

“This is not a tally of economies with high gross domestic product (GDP) growth, or low unemployment.

The goal is to quantify for entrepreneurs and investors the often-qualified information about dynamic economies and what they would consider desirable conditions for business,” said the Forbes.

In the South Asian region, all other countries except Bangladesh slipped from their last year’s position. India has slipped 11 places to rank 75th while Sri Lanka slipped to 83rd postion from last year’s 67th. Pakistan slipped to 101st spot from last year’s 83rd. However, Bangladesh moved up four places to 106th position from last year’s 110th.

All the South Asian countires posted a negative performance in personal freedom and increased red tapism. But amazingly, Nepal has done better in protection of investors’ interests in comparison to other South Asian countries, where they have dismal performance, according to Forbes.

Canada and Singapore moved up four places each to number three and four respectively. Other countries in the top 10 this year include New Zealand, the UK, Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong and Norway. New Zealand, Australia and Norway joined the top 10 list this year while Finland, Ireland and Switzerland were dislodged from this league.

Big movers included New Zealand (no 5, seven places up), followed by Jordan (no 33, 28 places up), Australia (no 8, five places up), the UAE (no 46, 28 places up) and Malaysia (no 25, 13 places up).

According to the report, Nepal has considerable scope for exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreign investment interest. “Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors will remain poor, however, because of the

small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, civil strife and its susceptibility to natural disaster,” said Forbes that gives more points to personal freedom.

Amid financial turmoil this year, Forbes added stock market performance to reflect the extent of disrepair in countries’ banking systems as well as investor confidence in a recovery. Intellectual property rights, the promotion of free trade and low inflation, combined with low taxes on income and investment, give a snapshot of the conditions for business in each.

Sliding down the most this year was Ireland (no 14, 12 places down), which even saw plans for a Guinness mega-brewery shelved by parent Diageo as exports slowed. Uruguay (no 66, 22 places down), Armenia (no 94, 31 places down), Paraguay (no 99, 29 places down) and Latvia (no 45, 13 places down) rounded out this year’s losers.