Top 5: Developing Markets for Doing Business in 2024

From Latin America to Southeast Asia, developing economies are looking for the golden formula to achieve a boost in business.

Any businessperson who has operated overseas will tell you that doing business is easier in certain jurisdictions than others.

The ease of doing business is a multidimensional measure which encompasses factors such as the ease of starting a business, obtaining the necessary permits and registration, and—perhaps most crucially for a young business—getting credit.

Most indexes of the ease of doing business also take into account the tax system vis-à-vis newly established businesses, the possibility of cross-border trading, and the judiciary’s power to enforce binding contracts.

There are quite a few annual or biannual reports which rank countries based on such variables. Among others, there is the Doing Business report published by the World Bank, the Index of Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation, and the—now defunct—Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) by the World Economic Forum.

Here we are going to have a look, in no particular order, at some developing economies where conducting business is becoming increasingly easy due to the implementation of supportive measures for investors and entrepreneurs.

This list has been compiled mostly relying on distilled narrative data and not statistics extracted from secondary sources.

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An exemplary Latin American market for offshoring and nearshoring, Colombia has managed to attract the regional offices of dozens if not hundreds of major businesses over the last couple of years, especially in light of the return of peace and political stability since 2016.

Since 2018, watchdogs such as the World Bank have noted that Colombia is reforming its business regulatory framework. Some five years onward, we are witnessing some—though not all—of those promises bear fruit.

Sectors such as food and beverage processing, information technology (IT), and real-estate have registered high levels of foreign investment in 2023.

An investment climate statement recently published by the US Department of State emphasizes the role on the Colombian legal system, noting that “Colombia’s legal and regulatory systems generally are transparent and consistent with international norms,” adding that “the country has a comprehensive legal framework for business and foreign direct investment (FDI).”

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The Central Asian giant has become increasingly business-friendly in recent years with the undertaking of bureaucratic reforms.

This has been part of a new wave of reforms, making Kazakhstan a more business-friendly climate.

After President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced a comprehensive package of economic reforms in September, 2023, Modern Diplomacy reported that “among the key points [of the reform plan] were industrialization, diversification, a move toward green energy, simplification of tax codes, and a focus on transparency and fairness in governance.”

In short, all factors that can lead to a spike in the ease of doing business were packed in.

Combined with a facilitated access to energy—including hydrocarbons and renewables—these reforms can make Kazakhstan the most business-friendly country in Central Asia in 2024-2025.

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In a continent where bureaucratic processes can easily become nightmarish experiences, Rwanda is one of the pioneering nations to simplify the matters in the interest of business development. The country was ranked second in Africa by the World Bank in terms of doing business in 2022.

This was in no small part due to the fact that Rwanda has taken steps to encourage domestic, regional, and international investment. The Rwandan government recently embarked on a campaign to attract Nigerian investors to relocate some of their assets to Rwanda, promising a high level of investment safety.

To make the country’s market more accessible, the country’s government has waived visas for all Africans and members of the Commonwealth—a move that has been described by the country’s senior diplomatic officials as “a bid to widen tourism and spur trade and investment,” according to Arise News.

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Aspiring to become the next big manufacturing hub in Asia, Vietnam has become tangibly open to foreign investors in spite of its nominally Marxist economy.

“Foreign investment in Vietnam surged in October as the manufacturing hub attracted more than double the financial pledges it has received monthly this year, amid a big boost in spending for new plants,” reported Reuters in October 2023, referring to several international companies’ plans to launch manufacturing plants in Vietnam.

It is expected that this trend will continue in 2024 in light of the exceptional ease of doing business the Southeast Asian nation has come to offer.

Among other things, Vietnam has improved firms’ access to credit, which is critical to the ease of doing business by all metrics. In late 2023, the Vietnamese prime minister called on the governor of the State Bank and several cabinet ministers to streamline the supply of credit lines to “business and prioritized sectors which can help drive economic growth, including investment, consumption and exports,” according to The Star.

The Philippines
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Yet another rising Asian economy, the Philippines has traditionally maintained strong ties with the Western world. The country, with its large educated workforce and growing fluency in English, wants to claim its share of the pie in the ASEAN region in terms attracting foreign investment.

Obstacles ahead of business activities are being removed slowly but surely.

“The country’s new administration under president Ferdinand Marcos Jr., colloquially known as Bongbong, has seen a period of economic strength since it came to power in June 2022,” according to The Banker.

Vietnam even has an Ease of Doing business Law in place which was passed in 2018. “The strengthened version of the law is poised to facilitate prompt actions or resolution of all government transactions with efficiency,” per the Filipino government’s official website.

With the country opening its doors to international businesses by facilitating the registration of businesses, it is expected that 2024 will see the arrival of more foreign investments.

Final note

“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future!” the American baseball player, Yogi Berra, once observed. Chances are, however, that the developing countries mentioned here will continue to offer a more easy-going climate for doing business in 2024 in light of the structural reforms that they have implemented and their longterm plans to become a part of global economy.

What all of these five economies, despite their distances and differences, have in common can be distilled to international engagement, regulatory reforms, and easy access to credit lines—a combination that often leads to a boost in business.