The UAE ranked as the 26th country in the world for easier business processes, advancing eight places ahead of its ranking in the 2016 report. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan climbed to 35th position, rising 16 points having passed several key reforms over the past year.
The Arab nation took a major leap forward by instituting reforms to protect minority investors by measuring shareholder’s rights in related party transactions and in corporate governance. The UAE gained 39 places and ranked 9th for this indicator this year.
The country also took steps to make it simpler to establish commercial ventures there. “The UAE made it easier to start a business by streamlining name reservation and articles of association notarization,” noted the report.
In a recent TBY interview, the Minister of Economy of the UAE, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, stressed in that his nation’s support for the SME sector was a priority and would help boost development and strengthen economic diversity.
“The interest in the SME sector is part of the UAE’s economic diversity policy and its sustained efforts to reduce the reliance on oil as much as possible,” explained Al Mansoori.
Kazakhstan also registered a marked improvement in the annual ranking after passing numerous reforms in recent years to diversify its economy, which has always been highly dependent on the extractive sector.
The World Bank praised the nation’s efforts to increase the reliability of the national electricity supply. This year the government started to penalize utilities for poor power output figures, an initiative that has broadly enhanced services.
Additionally, Kazakhstan took major steps to facilitate the obtainment of construction permits for companies, a field in which the country climbed by a full 56 positions this year to the rank of number 22.
The construction sector has also experienced a remarkable progress. “Kazakhstan introduced a single window portal to streamline the approvals process to obtain a building permit,” notes the report.
The World Bank also highlighted that exports became less costly after the government eliminated two documents previously required by custom clearance.
Over the past decade, Kazakhstan has registered an average annual growth between 10-15%, mainly driven by the nation’s productive oil industry. More recently the government has initiated reforms to attract foreign investment to develop other sectors of the economy.
“Kazakhstan has an endless appetite for consumer goods of all types and the means to pursue a solid middle-class lifestyle, even a luxurious one for those who have benefited from economic growth,” said Doris Bradbury, Executive Director of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).
In her view, there are some “crucial” areas to continue to reform such as the judicial system and tax legislation. Corruption also remains a significant challenge, as the country ranked 123rd in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015, although the government has been pushing an anti-corruption campaign.
“In general, Kazakhstan has a promising future; however, it must weather these current financial hardships first,” noted Bradbury in her interview published in The Business Year: Kazakhstan 2016.