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Poland takes top honors for 'most improved' in cutting red tape

It's getting easier to do business in many countries, according to a World Bank report, with Eastern Europe and Central Asia making significant strides this year.

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Senior technologist Dariusz Czolak prepares to present the process of epitaxy in the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (ITME) laboratory in Warsaw last month.

Kacper Pempel/REUTERS

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When Marzenna Weresa asked her students at the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland what they wanted to do after graduation, most said they wanted to work for a transnational corporation. That was in 2005. But now, “more and more want to start their own businesses,” Professor Weresa says, an enthusiasm she attributes to the country’s changing business landscape.

The business environment in Poland improved the most out of 185 economies in 2011-2012, according to a recent World Bank report called Doing Business 2013. The report, which has been published annually for a decade, takes note of reforms that create more jobs and support economic growth.

Doing Business found that 108 economies implemented 201 regulatory reforms over the past year, and that the difficulty of doing business has declined globally since 2005. Reforms this year have included everything from eliminating minimum capital requirements to start a business in Rwanda to setting up 24-hour “customs clearance zones” along the border in Georgia, making it easier for traders to complete the customs process in one stop.

“This is progress,” says Donald Lessard, professor of international management and engineering systems at MIT’s Sloan Business School. But, Mr. Lessard notes, there is still plenty of work to be done,especially in the area of helping businesses build ties to the global economy.

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