San José ranks second among 22 cities from Central America and the Dominican Republic for doing business, according to the World Bank report “Doing Business 2015,” presented Monday.
Panama City took the top spot, while Guatemala City and Santo Domingo were third and fourth, respectively.
The study, the World Bank’s first to analyze the Central American region, examined business regulations for small and medium-sized enterprises in cities in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean country was included for being part of regional organizations such as the Central American Integration System and the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA-DR.
The evaluation took into account indicators such as the ease in each country for starting a business, obtaining building permits, registering a property and trading across borders.
Costa Rica’s best rating was for “ease of procedures for registering a property,” and its worst was “obtaining building permits,” where it ranked fifth.
The study’s main criticism with regional countries is the existence of substantial differences in business regulations and their implementation, “not just between countries but even between different cities within a country,” said Humberto López, World Bank director for Central America.
The best performing countries in the area of starting a business have implemented one-stop resources and online systems. But the report noted that even in those countries, the resources generally only were utilized in capital cities.
Medium-sized cities perform better in general in dealing with construction permits, the report noted.
In registering property, variations mainly occur because of national policies, such as the quality of cadastral information or the efficiency of property registries, the report said.
To improve in those areas López recommended using regional forums such as the Central American Economic Integration to coordinate joint reforms that facilitate trade.