Firms fear lack of global rules

Elizabeth Fournier
SIXTY-TWO per cent of multinational companies want greater harmonisation in how regulations are applied across borders, with the regulatory environment cited as the single biggest barrier to operating in some of the world’s key markets.

The amount of companies wanting regulation to be applied in a more consistent way rises to 64 per cent among finance and insurance firms, according to the results of law firm Allen & Overy’s wide-ranging 50 Degrees East report, released this morning.

Up-and-coming economies such as Singapore, India and Thailand are the most in favour of more harmonisation, while attitudes across Europe were slightly less enthusiastic.

Sixty per cent of European business leaders want greater coordination – the lowest regionally – with the UK and Italy most keen. In contrast, 58 per cent of those in France think global harmonisation has gone far enough already.

The report – which focuses on whether western economies are shifting economic powers towards the East by imposing heavier regulatory burdens on corporates – found executives concerned about the lack of a level playing field, with 55 per cent worried they are being put at a competitive disadvantage by domestic rules.

“The challenge for the West seems to be to develop more consistent, less burdensome regulation, which promotes healthy competition domestically,” said Allen & Overy’s global head of dispute resolution Tim House.

“It should also be wary of hampering innovation and entrepreneurial enterprise in developing markets through the extra-territorial reach of its regulation,” he added.