British prime minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote called by her own Conservative Party last week in the battle over Brexit. “We now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit to the British people and building a better future for this country,” May told reporters after the vote.
As terms of the country’s exit from the European Union are mapped out, Britain’s future is murky. Yet the foundation of its business climate remains attractive, leading the U.K. to the top spot in Forbes’ 13th annual look at the Best Countries for Business, which measures countries that are most hospitable to capital investment. It is the second straight year with the U.K. in the lead.
“The U.K. has a globalized economy that is more open than most across the world in terms of trade, investments, capital flows and, until recently, immigration,” says Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.
The U.K. is the only country to land among the top 30 (out of 161 countries ranked) on all 15 metrics Forbes used to rate the countries. Gallery: The Best Countries for Business 201910 imagesView gallery
The Heritage Foundation touts the benefits of Brexit for the U.K. in its annual “Index of Economic Freedom,” which is part of our scoring. “The process of exiting the European Union will afford the government opportunities to correct any remaining structural deficiencies that might be holding back an already high-performing economy,” per the report. “The U.K. has one of the world’s most efficient business and investment environments and will soon be open to expanded global trade relationships.”
Zandi is less optimistic. He thinks it could take multiple generations for the $2.6 billion economy to recover from Brexit. “Under the Theresa May proposal, which is most likely, the U.K.’s global orientation is diminished. It makes investment and trade more challenging,” says Zandi. “The British economic sun is definitely going to shine less bright.”
We gauged the Best Countries for Business by rating nations on 15 different factors, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape and investor protection. Other metrics included were workforce, infrastructure, market size, quality of life and risk. Each category was equally weighted.
The data is based on published reports from Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance, United Nations, Transparency International, World Bank Group, Marsh & McLennan and World Economic Forum (click here for more details on the methodology and the best and worst country on each metric).
Sweden moves up two places to finish second this year. The business climate of the export-oriented economy received high marks for innovation, property rights, risk and low corruption. Stockholm is one of Europe’s leading tech startup hubs. The ratio of national debt to GDP in the Scandinavian country has dropped from 80% in 1995 to 41% last year.
Rounding out the top five countries overall are Hong Kong, Netherlands and New Zealand.
The U.S. fell five spots this year to 17th, a tick ahead of Spain. The world’s biggest economy at $19.5 trillion lost ground on personal, trade and monetary freedoms.
“Instead of embracing the world, we are pushing it away, and that is bad for business,” says Zandi, who highlights the immigration policy as a major deterrent to the U.S. business climate. The problem of getting visas for highly skilled workers is forcing companies to move overseas. The best and brightest are often taking jobs outside the U.S. It is a double whammy if these people are starting new companies. “It puts a stake in the heart of what makes the American economy tick,” says Zandi.
Watchdog organization Freedom House annually rates countries on the “real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals.” Thirty-three countries get their highest rating. As of this year, the U.S. is not one of them. The U.S. political freedom score took a hit, with the report citing “Growing evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, violations of basic ethical standards by the new administration, and a reduction in government transparency.”
African nations populate the worst countries for business with seven of the bottom 10 (Haiti is the weakest among non-African countries). These countries typically fare poorly on innovation, trade freedom and investor protection. The Central African Republic ranks last. The conflict-prone nation has a GDP per capita of only $400.
Coca Cola South Africa Improves SME Role In Value Chain
Coca Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) launches an R20 million fund for small supplier development and procurement, annually, for the next five years.
This was announced by the Financial Director, Walter Leonhardt at Gallagher Convention Centre at the third annual Supplier Development Conference.
CCBS is the South African-based subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA).
Leonhardt said the purpose of this fund is to assist young upcoming black entrepreneurs in the Coca-Cola value chain.
“We are, today, launching the CCBSA supplier fund of access to funding. To address the issue of access to funding which most SMEs experience,” said Leonhardt.
This will enable the entrepreneurs’ procurement process to be easier.
“It is to help them buy equipment, fund working capital and to help them overcome something we have identified as a challenge for upcoming businesses, which is access to capital on quit lenient terms,” said Leonhardt.
Budding entrepreneurs can visit their website to find out how they can access the funds.
There were over 120 suppliers of CCBSA in attendance.
Managing director of CCBSA Velaphi Ratshefola said they spent R2.35 billion last year, supporting 567 black-owned suppliers, of whom, 265 were black female owned suppliers.
“So for me, it is clear that this is working. We have helped create a very inclusive economy. We need to play our part and we need to ensure that only through an inclusive growing economy we can create a stable environment where businesses can flourish.
“If we do not have a stable environment, a stable economy, we will have a lot of disturbances which are never good for business,” said Ratshefola.
“So for all of us, we should not do it just for social reasons, we must do it for the success of businesses and imperative,” said Ratshefola.
Zimbabwe Central Bank Borrows $985 Million From African Banks
Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank has borrowed $985 million from African banks to purchase fuel and other critical imports with current reserves covering imports for just four weeks, underscoring the severity of dollar shortages, governor John Mangudya said.
The southern African nation last month ditched a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for its surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars, merging them into a lower-value transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.
Mangudya said the central bank borrowed $641 million from the African Export and Import Bank, $152 million from Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank, and $25 million from Mozambique’s central bank, among others.
The loans, which would be repaid from future gold earnings, have a tenure of between three and five years and attract an interest of up to 6 percent above the Libor rate, Mangudya said.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s single biggest mineral export earner, accounting for a third of its $4.2 billion earnings last year after a record output, central bank data shows.
“These loans are well structured facilities contracted last year. They will be paid from future (gold) export receivables,” Mangudya told a parliamentary committee.
The central bank takes 45 percent of dollar sales from gold producers and half from other miners to fund imports like fuel and power and repay foreign loans.
But the miners only have 30 days to keep their dollar balances in local foreign currency accounts, after which they must sell them. The companies have asked the central bank to extend the period they may keep their dollars to 90 days, according to mining executives.
Unable to get funding from foreign lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank due to arrears of more than $2.4 billion, Zimbabwe has looked to financiers from the continent and local banks to shore up its budget.
The central bank chief said Zimbabwe had just $500 million in reserves, enough to purchase four weeks’ worth of imports.
Mangudya said government borrowing from the central bank reached $2.99 billion in December, about three times its permissible overdraft limit.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has promised to curb borrowing in 2019 under reforms to revive the southern African economy, after the budget deficit soared last year following a spike in spending ahead of elections.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said last week that the local RTGS dollar, Zimbabwe’s new de facto currency, will be backed up with fiscal discipline and the government would allow it to fluctuate but would manage excessive volatility.
On the interbank forex market on Monday, one U.S. dollar fetched 2.5 RTGS dollars, the same rate as on Feb. 22 when the central bank sold some dollars to banks. That compares to a rate of 3.5 RTGS dollars per U.S. dollar on the black market. -Reuters
Volvo To Limit Car Speeds In Bid For Zero Deaths
Volvo Cars said on Monday it will introduce a 180 km per hour (112 mph) speed limiter on all new vehicles as the Swedish automaker seeks to burnish its safety credentials and meet a pledge to eliminate passenger fatalities by 2020.
While Volvo, whose XC90 flagship SUV currently has a top speed of 212 km/h, has made progress on its so-called “Vision 2020” target of zero deaths or serious injuries, Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said it is unlikely to meet the goal without additional measures to address driver behavior.
“We’ve realized that to close the gap we have to focus more on the human factors,” Samuelsson said. Volvo did not elaborate on the data but said its passenger fatalities were already well below the industry average before the goal was announced in 2007.
In addition to the speed cap, Volvo plans to deploy technology using cameras that monitor the driver’s state and attentiveness to prevent people driving while distracted or intoxicated, two other big factors in accidents, Samuelsson said.
The company is also looking at lower geo-fenced speed limits to slow cars around sensitive pedestrian areas such as schools, while seeking to “start a conversation” among automakers and regulators about how technology can be used to improve safety.
Volvo, which is owned by China’s Geely, announced the new speed limitation policy on the eve of the Geneva auto show, where its new Polestar performance electric-car brand is showcasing its second model, the Polestar 2.
While Volvo buyers often choose the brand for its safety, Samuelsson conceded that the speed cap could be a turn-off for a few in markets such as Germany, where drivers routinely travel at 200 km/h or more on unrestricted autobahns.
“We cannot please everybody, but we think we will attract new customers,” the CEO said, recalling that the roll-out of three-point seat belts pioneered by Volvo in 1959 had initially been criticized by some as intrusive.
“I think Volvo customers in Germany will appreciate that we’re doing something about safety,” he said. -Reuters
– Laurence Frost; additional reporting by Esha Vaish
30 Years And Still Grooving
African footballers are a wanted commodity but are not necessarily from the continent
The Million Dollar Game
Noëlla Coursaris Musunka The Trailblazer In The Congo
His Bosses Rejected His Idea. Then Hans Langer Became A Billionaire From His Plan For Giant 3D Printers
- Cover Story2 weeks ago
Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent
- Cover Story3 weeks ago
The Monk Of Business: Ylias Akbaraly Talks About Secret To Success And Plans To Take Africa With Him
- Current Affairs4 weeks ago
Botswana Offers Zimbabwe $600 Million Of Loans: Report
- Billionaires2 weeks ago
At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever
- Brand Voice4 weeks ago
Rising Africa Series: Thought Leaders Africa
- Woman2 weeks ago
Naomi Campbell: Africa Is One Of The Leading Continents In The World
- Cover Story3 weeks ago
A Solution To Improve Madagascar’s Local Economies
- Billionaires2 weeks ago
The Richest Woman In The World