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Best Countries For Business

Georgia is on the 47-th place.

The best country for business this year is Denmark, which ranked No. 1 three straight years between 2008 and 2010. Denmark’s economy has struggled in recent years along with the rest of the European Union. Last week Denmark’s government cut its growth forecasts for this year and next, as the $324 billion economy struggles to recover from the collapse of the housing bubble, as well as a weak export market. “Denmark relies on the core of Europe for their export demand and they are struggling to fill that void right now,” says John Weis, an economist at Moody’s Analytics with an expertise on the Danish economy.

Despite its recent economic challenges, Denmark’s business climate is extremely positive. It scored highly across the board, finishing in the top 25 in each of the 11 categories we considered with top five showings for personal freedom, technology and low corruption.

One of the keys to Denmark’s pro-business climate is the flexible labor market known as “Flexisecurity,” where companies can easily hire and fire workers with out-of-work adults eligible for significant unemployment benefits. Unemployed workers are also eligible for training programs. It creates one of the most productive workforces in Europe. “The model encourages economic efficiency where employees end up in the job they are best suited for,” says Weis. “It allows employers to quickly change and reallocate resources in the workplace.”

Denmark is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. The government streamlines the startup process with only four procedures needed to start a new business and at minimal costs. The regulatory climate is also one of the most efficient.

We determined the Best Countries for Business by grading 146 nations on 11 different factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. Each category was equally weighted. The data came from published reports from the following organizations: Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance, Transparency International, World Bank and World Economic Forum (click here for more details on the methodology).

Pro-Democracy street protests have roiled Hong Kong this fall, but the semiautonomous Chinese territory enjoys an incredibly business friendly climate. It ranks second, up from No. 3 last year. Unemployment was a scant 3.1% last year and GDP growth of 2.9% was better than any other country in our top 20 outside of Singapore, which ranked ninth overall. Hong Kong ranks among the top five locales for investor protection, trade freedom, tax burden and red tape. Rounding out the top five of Forbes’ Best Countries are No. 3 New Zealand followed by Ireland and Sweeden.

The world’s four biggest economies outside the U.S. turned in a mixed performance. Japan rose two spots from last year to No. 26, while China fell three places to No. 97. Germany, which has the fourth biggest economy at $3.6 trillion, jumped to No. 20 from No. 24 last year. France had the biggest fall of anyone in the top 50, down eight spots to No. 27. France endured its second recession in four years, as well as record unemployment. It’s rating fell due to plunging scores on monetary freedom under the government of socialist Francois Hollande.

Guinea, formerly known as French Guinea, ranks last for the third straight year. The West African nation is at the center of the recent Ebola outbreak. It ranks among the bottom five for innovation, technology and corruption. Chad, Libya, Myanmar and Haiti fill out the bottom five (click here for more on the worst countries for business).

Rank Name GDP Growth (%) GDP/Capita ($) Trade Balance as % of GDP Population (mil)
1

Denmark

0,1 37 800 6 5,6
2

Hong Kong

2,9 52 700 2,1 7,1
3

New Zealand

2,5 30 400 -4,6 4,4
4

Ireland

0,6 41 300 3,3 4,8
5

Sweden

0,9 40 900 7,1 9,7
6

Canada

1,6 43 100 -3,3 34,8
7

Norway

1,6 55 400 13,1 5,1
8

Singapore

4,1 62 400 18,4 5,6
9

Switzerland

2,0 54 800 10,2 8,1
10

Finland

-0,6 35 900 -0,8 5,3
11

Netherlands

-0,8 43 300 9,1 16,9
12

Belgium

0,1 37 800 -1,8 10,4
13

United Kingdom

1,8 37 300 -3,8 63,7
14

Slovenia

-1,1 27 400 6,3 2,0
15

Iceland

1,9 40 700 -0,7 0,3
16

Australia

2,5 43 000 -3 22,5
17

Taiwan

2,2 39 600 11,7 23,4
18

United States

1,6 52 800 -2,2 318,9
19

Luxembourg

0,5 77 900 4,5 0,5
20

Germany

0,5 39 500 7,2 81,0
21

Portugal

-1,8 22 900 0,5 10,8
22

Estonia

1,5 22 400 -1,5 1,3
23

Spain

-1,3 30 100 0,2 47,7
24

Lithuania

3,4 22 600 -1,2 3,5
25

Austria

0,4 42 600 2,5 8,2
26

Japan

2,0 37 100 1,1 127,1
27

France

0,3 35 700 -2,2 66,3
28

United Arab Emirates

4,0 29 900 13,5 5,6
29

Chile

4,4 19 100 -3,9 17,4
30

Israel

3,3 36 200 1,9 7,8
31

Macedonia

3,1 10 800 -1,8 2,1
32

South Korea

2,8 33 200 4,6 49,0
33

Cyprus

-8,7 24 500 -1,6 1,2
34

Mauritius

3,4 16 100 -9,2 1,3
35

Malta

2,4 29 200 1,4 0,4
36

Latvia

4,0 19 100 -2 2,2
37

Malaysia

4,7 17 500 5,3 30,1
38

Italy

-1,8 29 600 -0,1 61,7
39

Qatar

5,5 102 100 22,3 2,1
40

Poland

1,3 21 100 -2,2 38,3
41

Romania

3,5 14 400 -1,1 21,7
42

Bulgaria

0,5 14 400 -0,3 6,9
43

South Africa

2,0 11 500 -6,7 48,4
44

Czech Republic

-0,9 26 300 -1,7 10,6
45

Slovakia

0,8 24 700 3,4 5,4
46

Croatia

-1,0 17 800 -0,2 4,5
47

Georgia

2,5 6 100 -8,6 4,9
48

Montenegro

1,5 11 900 -42,9 0,7
49

Hungary

0,2 19 800 1,3 9,9
50

Turkey

3,8 15 300 -7,1 81,6
51

Greece

-3,8 23 600 0,8 10,8
52

Peru

5,1 11 100 -4,9 30,1
53

Bahrain

4,4 29 800 6,7 1,3
54

Jordan

3,3 6 100 -14 7,9
55

Uruguay

3,5 16 600 -4,8 3,3
56

Armenia

4,6 6 300 -6,9 3,1
57

Costa Rica

3,5 12 900 -5,5 4,8
58

Albania

0,7 10 700 -10 3,0
59

Saudi Arabia

3,6 31 300 18,4 27,3
60

Azerbaijan

5,8 10 800 17,5 9,7
61

Mexico

1,2 15 600 -1,1 120,3
62

Thailand

2,9 9 900 -0,8 67,7
63

Mongolia

11,8 5 900 -32,7 3,0
64

Jamaica

0,4 9 000 -11 2,9
65

Kazakhstan

5,0 14 100 0,9 17,9
66

Panama

7,5 16 500 -12,5 3,6
67

Colombia

4,2 11 100 -3 46,2
68

Oman

5,1 29 800 8,8 3,2
69

Botswana

3,9 16 400 8,9 2,2
70

Zambia

6,0 1 800 -5,6 14,6
71

Trinidad and Tobago

1,6 20 300 1,5 1,2
72

Namibia

4,4 8 200 -5,4 2,2
73

Barbados

-0,8 25 100 -6,5 0,3
74

Rwanda

7,5 1 500 -8,7 12,3
75

Moldova

8,9 3 800 -6,4 3,6
76

Cape Verde

1,5 4 400 -5,1 0,5
77

Indonesia

5,3 5 200 -3,3 253,6
78

Kuwait

2,3 42 100 38,5 2,7
79

Morocco

5,1 5 500 -9,2 33,0
80

Seychelles

3,3 25 900 -11 0,1
81

Ghana

7,9 3 500 -11,3 25,8
82

Philippines

6,8 4 700 2,8 107,7
83

Senegal

4,0 2 100 -8,4 13,6
84

Bosnia and Herzegovina

0,8 8 300 -5 3,9
84

Serbia

2,0 11 100 -4,1 7,2
86

Dominican Republic

2,0 9 700 -3,9 10,3
87

Tunisia

2,8 9 900 -9,4 10,9
88

Ukraine

0,4 7 400 -6,8 44,3
89

Sri Lanka

6,3 6 500 -3,8 21,9
90

El Salvador

1,6 7 500 -5,4 6,1
91

Russia

1,3 18 100 3,5 142,5
92

Madagascar

2,6 1 000 -18,5 23,2
93

India

3,2 4 000 -4,5 1 236,3
94

Brazil

2,3 12 100 -3,5 202,7
95

Guatemala

3,3 5 300 -3,4 14,6
96

Guyana

5,3 8 500 -16,9 0,7
97

China

7,7 9 800 2 1 355,7
98

Kenya

5,1 1 800 -9,9 45,0
99

Mozambique

7,0 1 200 -40,1 24,7
100

Lebanon

1,5 15 800 -7,4 5,9

All economic data for 2013. Market performance based on country’s major stock index returns for 12 months through December 4.
Sources: Heritage Foundation; World Economic Forum; Transparency International; Freedom House; World Bank; Central Intelligence Agency; Property Rights Alliance