Cayman Islands, Curaçao and Denmark are the top three easiest jurisdictions for doing business, according to TMF Group’s Global Business Complexity Index (GBCI). The most complex of the 77 jurisdictions surveyed are Brazil, France and Peru.

Among the countries where complexity has increased over the past 12 months are Italy (moving from 15th position in 2021 to 8th, where 0 is most complex and 77 is least complex), Greece (from 13th to 6th place) and Peru (from 24th to 3rd).

Key drivers of complexity in Brazil are the volume of regulatory changes each year and the three layers of tax regimes to comply with – federal, state and municipal. One of the most complex processes in Brazil remains incorporating new companies – at 45 days it takes much longer than most other countries.

Other trends

The report also highlights growth in both the complexity and flow of foreign direct investment. Experts in a larger percentage of jurisdictions (34% in 2022 vs 28% in 2021) are predicting an increase in FDI in the next five years, reflecting post-pandemic optimism at investment opportunities.

And ESG is becoming more of a focus for business globally. However, despite the increase in interest, legal enforcement of ESG practices is only in place for around 50% of jurisdictions. This is especially the case outside of the EU, demonstrating a lack of international alignment. The impact of ESG is therefore difficult to measure.

‘Our message isn’t to avoid investing in complex jurisdictions,’ says TMF Group CEO Mark Weil, ‘as these are often among the most attractive for talent and customer opportunities. Rather it is to invest with eyes open and ready to manage the rules that might otherwise put your licence to trade at risk.’