Starting a new business in New Zealand takes less than one day. In Venezuela, it takes 230.
That startling difference helps explain why the World Bank has rated New Zealand as the easiest place on the planet to do business — and why Venezuela languishes 187th out of 190 economies.
This year's report is the first time New Zealand has seized the top spot in the rankings. It toppled Singapore, which had kept a stranglehold on first place for the past decade.
New Zealand scored the highest worldwide in five of the 10 indicators that the World Bank looks at, such as starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property and getting credit.
The United States slipped down one place in the overall table, from seventh to eighth. It was ranked highly for getting credit and dealing with insolvent firms — but it suffered from a pretty poor rating for starting a business (51st worldwide).
It wasn't one of the 137 economies around the globe that made it easier to start and run small and medium-sized businesses over the past year, according to the World Bank study.
The three places that have most improved their business environment through recent reforms are Brunei, Kazakhstan and Kenya, the report said.
The worst rated economy worldwide is Somalia, which wasn't included in last year's rankings. The war-ravaged East African nation scores particularly badly for paying taxes (the World Bank says no such practice exists in Somalia) and protecting minority investors.
Here's the top 10:
1. New Zealand
4. Hong Kong
5. South Korea
7. United Kingdom
8. United States
CNNMoney (Hong Kong)