- By David BoscoDavid Bosco, a Foreign Policy contributing editor and assistant professor at American University's School of International Service. He is at work on a book about the International Criminal Court's first decade.
The World Bank has just released its annual Doing Business report, which assesses countries in terms of their openness to business activity. The report grades countries on an array of factors including government regulation, corruption, dispute resolution, and access to necessary services and then assigns them an overall ranking. Singapore retained its hold on the top spot this year, and the United States was fourth. The report identified Morocco as most improved and also highlighted key improvements in Colombia, South Korea, and Macedonia.
One thing that did not change significantly was the poor performance of the BRICS: China fell four spots to 91st. Russia was ranked 120th, and Brazil came in at 126. India brought up the rear at 132. Only new BRICS member South Africa did creditably, ranking 35th. In previous years, BRICS representatives at the World Bank have argued that the report is fatally flawed and have even suggested that the Bank disassociate itself from the entire project. Their complaints range from the methodological (allegations of a bias in favor of small countries) to the ideological (Brazil’s World Bank representative told me last year that the report fetishizes deregulation).
This year’s results appear likely to stoke that discomfort. And with the BRICS growing more powerful at the Bank and the Fund, the complaints may soon become hard to ignore.