Kazakhstan ranked first out of the 190 countries in “Protecting Minority Investors” in the World Bank’s Oct 31 Doing Business report.
The top ranking is a result of reforms undertaken this year to strengthened minority investor protections by increasing shareholders’ rights and their roles in major corporate decisions. The country also clarified ownership and control structures and requires more corporate transparency and increased access to corporate information in the case of trials.
Kazakhstan also earned high marks for its efforts to ensure contracts are enforced, and was ranked just sixth in that category of Doing Business. Enforcing contracts in Kazakhstan has been made easier by the introduction of additional time standards for key court events, which have been respected in the majority of cases.
In terms of registering property, Kazakhstan now ranks a significantly improved 17th. Efforts to increase transparency across the board have helped with property registration processes in the country, as have improvements to the land administration system’s dispute resolution mechanisms.
The report also clearly highlights where Kazakhstan could improve. In terms of trading across borders, the Central Asian nation comes in 123rd. In this category, the country is hurt by the time it takes a product to be exported, part of the report’s measure of border compliance. In Kazakhstan, the time to be exported indicator is 133 hours, a stark contrast to the 12.7 hours in high income Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Those remaining challenges resulted in Kazakhstan dropping one spot overall to 36th in the Doing Business report. Last year’s 35th place ranking was an all-time high for Kazakhstan.
And though Kazakhstan’s overall ranking fell a point this year, its Distance to Frontier (DTF) assessment, described by the World Bank as “the distance of each economy to the ‘frontier,’ which represents the best performance observed on each of the indicators across all economies in the Doing Business sample since 2005,” improved from 74.38 in 2017 to 75.44 for 2018. An economy’s DTF ranges from 0-100 with 0 representing the lowest performance and 100 representing the frontier.
The World Bank has been calculating the DTF assessment since 2014. New Zealand and Singapore were once again the leaders in this category, with their DTF measured at 86.55 and 84.57, respectively.
Now in its 15th year, the World Bank Doing Business report examines and ranks national regulatory standards that either facilitate or hinder the development and operation of businesses across a spectrum of activities. The report assesses key aspects of commercial activity, including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, accessing credit, protecting minority investors, trading across borders, paying taxes, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.