New Zealand has topped a list of the best countries to do business thanks to its "transparent and stable business climate" that fosters entrepreneurship.

After coming second in 2011, New Zealand leaped into first place in this year's list, which is compiled by American business magazine Forbes.

Although New Zealand was the smallest economy in the top 10, with GDP of $162 billion, it was ranked highly for personal freedom, investor protection,lack of red tape and lack of corruption.

Other factors in New Zealand's high ranking were its corporate tax rate cut last year and the NZX 50's 24 per cent rise in 12 months.


"New Zealand's economy is closely tied to Australia's, and both held up better than most during the global financial crisis," Forbes said.

"The downside to the resilience of its economy is that the New Zealand dollar has appreciated, making the country's agricultural exports more expensive."

Forbes also noted unemployment was at its highest level since 1999.

While New Zealand might have more regulation than some other countries, Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said it was good place to do business.

"By comparison it might have more regulation than some of our neighbours, but whatever laws are in place are pretty transparent," he said.

Despite the favourable ranking, Barnett said the country needed to do more to help new arrivals get involved in commerce.

"Especially from some of the Asian markets, they're coming in and there is more regulation than in their home countries and they're not setting up business ... those people who are coming in here with an intent to do business, we actually need to facilitate that," he said.

Australia missed the top 10, coming in at No11.


1 New Zealand
2 Denmark
3 Hong Kong
4 Singapore
5 Canada
6 Ireland
7 Sweden
8 Norway
9 Finland
10 United Kingdom.