New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world in which to conduct business, a World Bank study published today shows.

New Zealand was placed second in the report behind Singapore, which retained its crown at the top for a fourth year running.

The report ranks 183 countries based on ten indicators that measure the time and cost of government requirements in starting, operating and closing a business, trading across borders and paying taxes. The rankings don't reflect macroeconomic policy, infrastructure, workforce skills or crime rates.

After Singapore and New Zealand were Hong Kong and the United States. The top 10 countries were unchanged from the previous report except United Kingdom at five switched places with Denmark at six.

Ireland, Canada, Australia and Norway rounded out the top 10.

The rankings of most large economies were little changed from a year earlier with Japan at 15, Germany at 25, China at 89, and Russia at 120.

The biggest gain on the league table was made by tiny Rwanda, the first Sub-Sahara African nation to attain this status since the World Bank began its Doing Business reports in 2003.

Rwanda jumped 76 spots to 67 by cutting bureaucratic delays to start a business and sell property, making employment laws more flexible and simplifying tax payment.

Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia and Belarus were also singled out by the bank for making positive changes.

Low- and lower-middle-income economies accounted for two-thirds of reforms measured by the report from June 2008 and May 2009.

Colombia was the highest-ranked Latin American country at 37 while Venezuela, at 177, was the lowest and the only country in the bottom 16 not in Africa, the bank said.

-AP