Brits do it better than Latinos: UK ranks as one of the least complex countries to do business in the world

Suzie Neuwirth
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Britain was ranked one of the least complex countries to do business, although Ireland fared better (Source: Getty)

The UK is smoother, faster and has a better technique than a number of Latin American countries when it comes compliance.

While we may not have the tropical climates or world-famous beaches, we sure know how to reduce regulatory and compliance complexity.

The UK came 74th out of 95 countries ranked by professional services firm TMF Group for the second year in a row, making it one of the least complex places to do business.

“The United Kingdom continued to reduce its corporate secretarial complexity and last year the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 came into force,” said the report, citing the country's positive regulatory attributes.

TMF also highlighted the abolition of annual returns that comes into effect in the UK this year.

Meanwhile Argentina fared the worst in terms of complexity, coming in at number one in TMF's rankings for the third year running. Colombia came in third, while Mexico and Bolivia ranked sixth and seventh respectively and Brazil came in at number 10. Not so caliente.

There were also a few Asian entrants in the top 10 most complex countries, namely Indonesia (2nd), China (5th) and Thailand (9th).

TMF Group's experts said that many of most complex jurisdictions share certain characteristics. With the exception of China and the UAE (4th in the rankings) all jurisdictions in the top 10 have a civil rather than common law-based legal system.

“In general terms, the development of these systems have been plagued by limited investment and the lack of necessary legal infrastructure to support a robust corporate governance environment,” it said.

Political instability also had a part to play, the report added.

At the other end of the index, tax-haven Ireland topped the rankings as the least complex country to do business, improving its position by three places to 95th, ahead of fellow tax-haven the British Virgin Islands and new entrants Latvia and Trinidad & Tobago.

“Ireland’s success is thanks largely to its pro-business attitude, stable political environment and strong legal framework,” said the report.

TMF also compiled a 'what's hot' list in global compliance, where it asked local experts to rank a number of compliance topics according to how frequently the matter arose in their day-to-day business dealings with multinational clients.

Top of the list was whistleblowing for the second year, but bribery and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance rose up the list of priorities, overtaking cyber security.

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Eckford, director of international entity management at TMF Group, said: “Multinationals have to deal with an ever increasing regulatory and compliance burden, as they manage their presence in multiple territories or expand into new regions.

“Boards of directors face mounting pressure from many governments, who are creating additional layers of compliance as they continue to demand that companies provide them with more information about their activities and corporate structures.

“This can cause major headaches for in-house teams who do not have sufficient knowledge of local regimes and their potential pitfalls.

“We are seeing far greater international collaboration between governments as they look to share information to combat issues such as money laundering and close tax loopholes, therefore maintaining accurate and consistent information across a business’ international operations is a major priority for leadership teams.”

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