Some Australians find doing business in New Zealand is hard work

26 May 2014

Apparently many Australians like doing business in New Zealand because they feel familiar with customer expectations, they have connections with New Zealand and they see strong growth prospects. These were among findings in the 2014 Australian International Business Survey released last week. The survey is assessed as “one of the most comprehensive investigations into Australian international business activity to be conducted in more than a decade….”

The data was provided by more than 1,600 Australian businesses operating in more than 120 countries. It reflects the experience of businesses operating offshore and enables a comparison of conditions experienced in seven of Australia’s top ten markets: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.

Although 62% of respondents said that they felt business conditions in New Zealand were much the same as in Australia, 14% reported finding New Zealand a more difficult market and 1% said New Zealand was the most difficult market in which they operated. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 24% said that it was easier or much easier to do business in New Zealand than in Australia. What seems extraordinary is that 13% said that it was easier or much easier to do business in China than in Australia, and 14% indicated that it was about the same.

The most recent  World Bank Ease of Doing Business Survey ranks New Zealand overall as the third most easy country in which to do business (after Hong Kong and Singapore), Australia is 11th  and China is 96th.

The World Bank is concerned with regulatory efficiency in measuring the ease of doing business.  The criteria relate to obstacles in –

  • Starting a business
  • Dealing with construction permits
  • Getting electricity
  • Registering property
  • Getting credit
  • Protecting investors
  • Paying taxes
  • Trading across borders
  • Resolving insolvency

New Zealand still among world leaders for doing business

27 October 2012

The World Bank’s annual report on the Ease of Doing Business has again ranked New Zealand in third place, for the fifth consecutive year.    Singapore has kept the top place, followed by Hong Kong.  Some improvement in paying taxes and resolving insolvencies in New Zealand were offset by minor changes in trading across borders and enforcing contracts.

Australia has moved up one place this year and now ranks as the 10th easiest economy in which to do business.

    Starting a Business Dealing with Construction Permits Getting Electricity Registering Property Getting Credit Protecting Investors Paying Taxes Trading Across Borders Enforcing Contracts Resolving Insolvency
Singapore 1 4 2 5 36 12 2 5 1 12 2
Hong Kong SAR, China 2 6 1 4 60 4 3 4 2 10 17
New Zealand 3 1 6 32 2 4 1 21 25 17 13
United States 4 13 17 19 25 4 6 69 22 6 16
Denmark 5 33 8 14 6 23 32 13 4 34 10
Norway 6 43 23 14 7 70 25 19 21 4 3
United Kingdom 7 19 20 62 73 1 10 16 14 21 8
Korea, Rep. 8 24 26 3 75 12 49 30 3 2 14
Georgia 9 7 3 50 1 4 19 33 38 30 81
Australia 10 2 11 36 37 4 70 48 44 15 18

Doing business still easier in New Zealand than elsewhere

20 October 2011

New Zealand has maintained its place as the 3rd “easiest” place of Doing Business for the fourth year in row. 

The World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index was released this afternoon. The Index is an aggregate ranking of economies based on ten areas in the business life cycle – ranging from the complexity of a start-up through to a winding-up. The premise is that economic activity requires good rules that are transparent and accessible to all. The indicators of business show how easy (or how difficult) it is to operate within the regulatory environment of the 183 participating economies. While fewer and simpler regulations often imply higher rankings, this is not always the case. Protecting the rights of creditors and investors, as well as establishing or upgrading property and credit registries, may mean that more regulation is needed.


Regulation however involves a relationship with officials and the potential for processes to be corrupted for preferential treatment. This makes for interesting juxtapositions between the Ease of Doing Business Index and the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Although Singapore and New Zealand are equally least corrupt on the CPI, and respectively 1st and 3rd on the Ease of Doing Business Index, Saudi Arabia is 12th on Ease of Doing Business but 50th on the CPI. Similarly, Georgia at 16th on Ease of Doing Business is 68th on the CPI.


NZ dropped 2 places in the World Economic Forum’s 2011 Global Competitiveness Survey, which is a comparable assessment published last month, slipping from 23rd to 25th. Intriguingly China, was in 26th place, improving from 27th in 2010.


The Worldwide Governance Indicators (also developed by the World Bank) to be published later this month, will provide another comparison between standards of transparency and integrity in New Zealand and the rest of the World.


New Zealand Easiest place to do Business after Singapore

29 October 2015

This week the World Bank released the 2016 Ease of Doing Business Survey.  This is the 13th annual report investigating regulations that enhance business activities and those that constrain it.  The survey comprises qualitative indicators measuring 11 areas of the business environment in 189 economies (Hong Kong and Taiwan are included.)

The Bank provides this business objective data for governments to use in improving regulatory policies and encourage research on important dimensions of the business environment.

2016 Ease of Doing Business
1 Singapore
2 New Zealand
3 Denmark
4 South Korea
5 Hong Kong
6 United Kingdom
7 United States
8 Sweden
9 Norway
10 Finland

Since 2008, New Zealand has ranked either as the 2nd or 3rd most easy economy for doing business.  In the latest survey it again ranked in 2nd place.  Of the eleven ease of doing business indicators New Zealand currently is the leader in

  • Starting a business
  • Registering property
  • Getting credit
  • Protecting minority investors

Although the trading focus for New Zealand is with the other 11 Trans Pacific Partnership member states (enhanced this week with Indonesia enter the Partnership – and possibly China in the very near future) the Ease of Doing Business among the TPP member states is variable.

TPP Members
84th Brunei
48th Chile
1st Singapore
13th Australia
14th Canada
34th Japan
18th Malaysia
38th Mexico
50th Peru
7th United States
90th Vietnam
109th Indonesia
84th China

Civil Service chief executive not doing it for the money

9 October 2014

The British Civil Service appointed a Chief Executive last week. This new role seeks to bring a proven business focus to organisational change. The appointee has been part of the Civil Service for only eight months, moving from an oil industry career.  He has postgraduate qualifications in engineering and business management and an MBA. His role in the BP – Amoco merger may well be seen as pertinent expertise for delivering on Ministers’ demands for a smaller, more effective Civil Service.

And he is appears to be motivated by public spiritedness. Eight years ago his BP salary package was the equivalent of NZ$ 3 million. His chief executive salary at about NZ$ 400,000 puts him among the fifteen highest paid civil servants (the remuneration of none has changed much over the last four years).

This is likely to be seen as a private sector cuckoo in the public service nest. He appointee’s well-known view is that “… the Civil Service is too focused on policy-making rather than leadership on big projects.” Reportedly he would like to see “…a cadre of project managers brought into Whitehall operating on a payment-by-results basis, so a bank of experience is built up …”

Moves are already afoot to change the character of the Civil Service by opening senior appointments below permanent secretary to external candidates.  A culture is sought that will embody accelerated decision making, improved policy making and stronger programme and project management.

Who’s doing the right thing? – State Services integrity and conduct survey

19 November 2013

The Legal Research Network (LRN) has published its 2013  Ethics & Compliance Leadership Survey Report. LRN is an NGO (established in 1994 “BE” – before Enron) that promotes the democratisation of information to help people around the world do the right thing.  It began promoting open government long before the Open Government Partnership was contemplated.

The survey findings are based on responses from ethics and compliance leaders across industries and geographies.

  • 80% saw business performance and value creation as the greatest benefits of an ethical culture
  • 74%  listed data privacy as the top ethics and compliance risk
  • 70% considered conflicts of interest as the second greatest threat
  • 68% rated electronic data protection as the third greatest threat,  and
  • 62% saw bribery and corruption as the next threat to ethics and compliance.

Interestingly, the survey indicates that ethics leaders consider social media to be a top risk also.

A finding is that programs with the primary mandate of “ensuring ethical behaviour and alignment of decision-making and conduct with core values” score higher on the LRN Program Effectiveness Index than programs that focused solely on “ensuring compliance with rules and regulations.”

The message is that compliance with codes of conduct for compliance sake is less effective than an organisation structured around the “6 trust elements – where

  • there are standards of integrity and conduct
  • there is promotion of the standards of integrity and conduct
  • the standards of integrity and conduct are integrated into the behaviour of employees
  • managers model the standards of integrity and conduct in their behaviour
  • staff know the consequences for behaviour that breaches the standards of integrity and conduct
  • the organisation acts decisively when breaches occur.

Awareness of these 6 trust elements will be measured in the State Services Integrity and Conduct survey now underway.

Still comparatively easy to do business in New Zealand

1 November 2013

The World Bank’s Annual Ease of Doing Business survey, released this week, shows New Zealand to be more or less holding its own over each of the 11 business indicators used to assess most of the world’s economies. New Zealand retained an overall  3rd place as in last year’s survey.

The survey measures the efficiency and strength of laws and institutions that shape the life cycle of businesses, comparing economic environments over time. The aim is that countries are encouraged to promote more efficient regulation. New Zealand was recognised as making an improvement this year in resolving insolvency issues although in three other aspects standards slipped. Although ranked most efficient in Starting a business and Protecting investors, the time and cost of Getting electricity ranked New Zealand as 45th, impacting on its overall place.

2014 Ease of Doing Business (Top Ten)

1   Singapore

2   Hong Kong

3   New Zealand

4   United States

5   Denmark

6   Malaysia

7   South Korea,

8   Georgia

9   Norway

10 United Kingdom

11 Australia

12 Finland

13 Iceland

14 Sweden

15 Ireland

24% see widespread corruption in New Zealand business

14 May 2012

Gallup has published findings of a corruption survey conducted last year reflecting responses given to interviews with 1000 participants in each of the 140 countries making up this Business Corruption Index. Unlike the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index which evaluates perceptions of the extent to which the public administration is corrupt, the Gallup survey measures perceived corruption within business.
As can be expected the countries that rate poorly on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index are largely those where corruption is a serious business issue.  The United States is an exception.
Results vary widely – even within regions. “… In Asia, for example, 13% of Singaporeans perceive corruption as widespread, (Singapore ranks first on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index). In contrast, nearly 90% in Indonesia perceive corruption as widespread in their businesses (Indonesia’s Ease of Doing Business Index ranking is 129th).
New Zealanders appear to have less confidence in the integrity of business than in public services. Business in New Zealand was seen by 24% of its citizens as widely corrupt – while 60% did not consider business corruption to be widespread. Overall New Zealand ranks in the Gallup survey as the 4th least corrupted business sector. (It is third in the Ease of Doing Business Index.)
The better rating countries, where there is seen to be less widespread corruption in business are;
1st     Singapore  (13%)
2nd    Rwanda     (15%)
3rd     Denmark   (21%)
 Australia ranks 12th (32%) and the United States 43rd (62%)
According to the World Bank, corruption is “one of the single largest obstacles to economic and social development.” Strong leadership, policies, laws, and greater transparency are necessary to fight corruption, which in turn may actually promote job creation and economic development”. Developing nations may suffer more because corruption can stymie financial development and foreign investments, and foster income inequality.

Being ethical is being business-like

1 August 2011

The role of State sector agencies is to support executive government.  Their function is to implement law and policy for government.  Perversely in some cases, supporting executive government means ensuring that activities are carried out independently of Ministers or are explicitly supportive of the Legislature rather than Ministers.

Independent Crown entities (there are 17 of them) are an illustration.   Agencies like the Commerce Commission carry out their role as part of executive government. A Minister is responsible for them, seeks an appropriation to fund them and accounts to Parliament for their activities.   But often what they do is an irritant to the Ministers.  They serve the Minister by exercising their decision-making independently of the wishes of Ministers except when statute provides otherwise.  Some ICEs like the Privacy Commission serve their Minister with functions that can include advocating against the preference of  Ministers.

State owned enterprises (there are 16) are required to operate in a commercial manner, but in doing so they must have regard to the Ministers interests as their owner/shareholder. Wherever agencies fit in the scheme of the State sector, their employees must give effect to the Cabinet Manual directive to be fair, impartial, responsible and trustworthy.

Recent developments regarding  Securency International, the Australian Reserve Bank trading subsidiary, illustrate the harm to government that arises when business imperatives take precedence over the obligations to be trustworthy. The chickens are coming home to roost relating to a pattern of corrupt payments made in several markets where Securency sought bank note printing contracts.  Australian Federal Police have charged seven senior managers with multimillion dollar bribes. A major contract to print the Bank of England five pound note has been scrapped, and further enforcement actions may encompass prominent personalities who were directors of the Reserve Bank. Central banks are supposed to epitomise integrity. The way part of the Australian Reserve Bank has been operating will undermine public confidence in government.

Australians will be influenced by media reports. Perceptions will become their reality.  That is why the way agencies and their staff are seen to behave is always important. The obligation on all New Zealand State servants is to do nothing that will harm the reputation of their agency or the State Services. Acting unlawfully to enhance the position of an agency is as unacceptable as acting unlawfully for personal gain.  Integrity is the essence of public service; it is what being business-like means for everyone who works for government.

Doing things better….may be

20 July 2011


The truth of the proverb that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good is playing out in Britain.  A blast of fresh air has overturned the News of the World and blown from their positions a number of people connected to the phone hacking scandal.  But much print and air time is now being given to the use and misuse of power, influence, transparency and privacy.  Better processes should flow from that public consideration.

The Prime Minister has said the relationship between politicians and the media “must change” .  He has pledged to be more open about meetings with media bosses and has said that Ministers and civil servants will be required to record all meetings with newspaper and media proprietors, senior editors and executives.

Mr Cameron, who has been criticised by the media for secret meetings with Mr Murdoch,  has stated that “the relationship between politicians and the media must change and we must be more transparent too about meetings.” “What we need is some honesty about this issue…”

The PM proposes an amendment to Cabinet directions that will require Ministers to record all meetings with media representatives – regardless of the nature of the meeting. He indicated that a record of meetings civil servants and special advisers have with the media will be published  quarterly, together with returns of expenses and hospitality.

But perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much.  In May this year Transparency International (UK) published “Cabs for Hire.  Fixing the revolving door between Government and Business” .  This inquiry into the misuse of ministerial influence to promote interests represented by lobbyists got no response from Government.  The outcome from the News of the World inquiries may have no greater impact.

And perhaps we should be concerned about the officer appointed to succeed the resigning Deputy Metropolitan Police  Commissioner? She commanded the unit that fabricated a justification for shooting the innocent Brazilian commuter at the time of the London Bombers in July 2005.  Her team repeatedly lied about de Menezes wearing a bulky jacket, running when challenged, leaping over the Tube barrier, and escaping onto a train.  The tone at the top of the Met is clearly contaminated.  Her appointment may do little to restore public trust.