Argentina is the hardest country to do business in

South America is the most complex region to operate in, study finds

Argentina has been named the most complex country in the world for multinational enterprises to do business in – for the second year in a row. This is according to the Global Benchmark Complexity Index, compiled by TMF Group.

The compliance services provider ranked 81 jurisdictions across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas according to how complex they are to do business in from a regulatory and compliance perspective.

It found that South America is the most complex region to operate in, accounting for the top three places and half of the index’s top 20. Brazil took second place, followed by Bolivia.

The high levels of government bureaucracy and red tape are cited as key reasons for making the local business environment in Brazil extremely challenging. For example, it can take around 54 days of work to start a business in Brazil, compared with just six days in the UK.

Poland, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand were also rated as being difficult countries to do business in, with all of them making the top 10.

The UK (including the Channel Islands) and Ireland are ranked amongst the least complex places to do business, alongside Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

The research identified local legal systems as a key driver in the complexity of regulatory environments. Those countries that operated a civil law framework, including many South American countries, were typically ranked higher than those where common law is employed.

Commenting on the findings, Thorold Youngman-Sullivan, global head of corporate secretarial services at TMF Group, said: “The burden of managing various international entities continues to be a major headache for multinational companies and their boards of directors. Growing internal and external stakeholder pressure, changing regulation and the continued expansion by multinationals into new territories, have all added to the compliance responsibilities shouldered by their in-house teams.”

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