U.S. Slips Down List of Best Countries for Doing Business

Once again, America has found itself well outside the top 10 of Forbes’ annual list, this year slipping one spot to 23rd place.

It didn’t always used to be this way: in 2006, the U.S. held the number 1 place.

But then the global financial crisis happened, forcing the government to bail out the financial and auto industries and create a wave of regulations.

“Falling scores on trade and monetary freedom, along with rising levels of red tape and bureaucracy are behind the decline for the world’s largest economy,” said Kurt Badenhausen, a senior editor at Forbes.

“Falling scores on trade and monetary freedom, along with rising levels of red tape and bureaucracy are behind the decline for the world’s largest economy.

The rankings were based on 11 criteria, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, red tape and stock market performance.

Data on taxes was gleaned from the World Bank, which published a list last month ranking the U.S. at 36th out of 190 countries, based on tax rates and the administrative ease of compliance. The nation’s average corporate tax rate, at 44%, was above the 40.6% global average.

Topping Forbes’ list this year was Sweden, which moved up four spots to clinch the lead for the first time. The Nordic country still has relatively high income taxes, though its previous center-right government reduced the corporate rate to 22% before it was ousted in 2014. Forbes also noted the country has relatively low public debt levels and open free-trade policies.

It helps that Sweden is home to successful companies including Ikea, Volvo and H&M, though it also has become a haven for tech startups. Skype and Spotify, for example, were both founded there.

Rounding out the top five were New Zealand, Hong Kong, Ireland and the UK, the latter of which has recently cut corporate taxes.

Chad was again ranked at the bottom of the 139-country list, with Gambia, Haiti, Yemen and Venezuela also in the bottom five.

The full list can be viewed here.

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Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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