UK ‘best country for business’ in 2018 – Forbes

The City of London is home to the UK's financial services sector

By James Sillars, Business Reporter

An annual ranking has declared the UK to be the best country for business next year, despite uncertainty over Brexit.

As business groups clamour for clarity on future trading arrangements and warn of financial services firms enacting contingency plans to maintain EU access, Forbes said the country had risen in its rankings from fifth last year to first.

The information specialist declared the UK was inside the top 25 nations in each of the metrics it judged, except for political risk.

An article for its magazine which launched the rankings said the country scored "particularly well" on technological readiness (fourth) and the size and education of its workforce (third).

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It judged 153 countries on 15 factors including property rights, innovation, taxes and red tape.

The report pointed to the current dominance of the UK's financial services sector and investment by top US technology firms, including Apple, as major positives for the country.

It also cited low unemployment as a benefit.

Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen said: "Much uncertainty remains with the official exit from the EU scheduled for March 2019.

"Some UK companies are holding off on investments to see how Brexit effects trade relations, and growth is forecast to slow in 2018, but Britain's business climate remains attractive."

Suren Thiru, head of economics and business finance at the British Chambers of Commerce, told Sky News in response: "The UK's ranking as the best country for doing business is a testament to the hard-work and resilience of business communities across the UK.

"The UK remains a great place start and establish a business with low barriers to entry and a good reputation for business-friendly regulation and enforcement.

"However, in order to boost growth and productivity over the long-term, the UK must do more to support firms on their growth journey, including addressing the longstanding issues around skills shortage and our creaking infrastructure.

"Firms will repay that backing with investment, hiring, training and export growth."

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The rankings had New Zealand in second place, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada.

The US rose from 23rd to 12th place as President Trump moved to bolster the economy through a series of tax cuts.

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