The staff of the World Bank Group recently released its annual Doing Business report, which provides an interesting review of the differing conditions and trends found in the various Latin American economies.

Among Latin American nations, Colombia and the Dominican Republic were ranked among the report’s top 10 reformers in 2007/2008. Colombia was noted for regulatory reforms in the areas of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, paying taxes and trading across borders. The Dominican Republic was noted for regulatory reforms in the areas of starting a business, registering property, paying taxes, trading across borders and closing a business. The Dominican Republic’s tax reforms were also noted as one of the three boldest reforms of the year worldwide.

Other Latin American nations were recognized for positive regulatory reforms regarding starting a business (El Salvador, Panama, Uruguay), employing workers (Argentina), getting credit (Guatemala), paying taxes (Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay) and closing a business (Mexico). Bolivia was the only Latin American country noted for instituting reforms making it harder to do business, specifically in the area of closing a business.

Overall, out of 181 countries, Singapore, New Zealand, the United States, Hong Kong and Denmark ranked as the top 5 jurisdictions for ease of doing business, with Latin American jurisdictions ranking as follows: Puerto Rico (35), Chile (40), Colombia (53), Mexico (56), Peru (62), El Salvador (72), Belize (78), Panama (81), Dominican Republic (97), Nicaragua (107), Guatemala (112), Paraguay (115), Costa Rica (118), Brazil (125), Honduras (133), Ecuador (136), Bolivia (150) and Venezuela (174). The Latin American countries with the largest moves on the list from 2007 to 2008 were Colombia and the Dominican Republic (up 13 spots each), Mexico (down 14 spots), Nicaragua (down 11 spots) and Peru and Belize (down 9 spots each).

The Doing Business report is intended to provide a measure of a country’s regulations that enhance and constrain business activity at the various stages of a company’s existence. The report considers both the laws and regulations in force and “time and motion indicators” designed to measure regulatory efficiency and cost.

For a full copy of the Doing Business 2009 report, please click here.