Ottawa — Canada will be the best country in the world in which to do business over the next five years, a new survey says.
This is the first time Canada has claimed top spot in the annual study.
The survey, conducted by an arm of the publisher of The Economist magazine, gave Canada high marks for its high-quality infrastructure, its openness to foreign trade and capital, and market opportunities.
The Canadian economy is also expected to benefit in the next five years from lower taxes and the election of a non-separatist government in Quebec.
“Canada scored well across the whole range of business environment categories,” a release from the company said.
The survey placed Canada ahead of runner-up the Netherlands, which earned top marks last year by a tiny margin. But the European country lost points this year because of a deteriorating economic environment and worsening fiscal situation.
Dale Orr, an economist and a managing director at Global Insight (Canada) Ltd., said he isn’t particularly surprised by Canada’s top rating. The costs of doing business in this country are low, he said, and business conditions have been improving in recent years.
Garth Whyte, executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said Canada’s fiscal situation, interest rates, and a variety of taxes have been improving.
“The climate is pretty good and has been improving,” he said. “The U.S. has really worsened.”
Mr. Whyte warned that soaring insurance costs threaten the climate for many businesses.
The survey’s results will come as welcome news for the federal government and other Canada boosters. A host of other recent surveys, measuring such things as economic freedom and quality of life, have been less flattering to this country.
The rest of the survey’s top five spots were occupied by Finland, Britain and the United States. Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Ireland rounded out the top 10.
Nigeria finished last, rounding out the bottom ranks with Iran, Venezuela, Algeria, and Pakistan.
The survey also concluded that business conditions throughout much of the world are improving, and that North America will be the best region in which to do business, followed by Western Europe, Asia and Australasia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Africa.
The U.S. score fell this year, after leading rankings between 1998 and 2002. The reasons for the drop include that country’s increased exposure to geopolitical risk, economic “imbalances” and weakening public finances.