Russia is ranked 35th in the 2018 issue of the World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report published on October 31, moving up five places as compared to last year.
President Vladimir Putin had famously set a target for Russia to be in the top 20 best countries to do business in by 2018. When Putin set this goal, Russia was ranked 121 among 189. Although Russia has made a great leap in the ranking, its advance slowed down notably once the country broke into the top 50. Moving upwards among the top 50 Doing Business economies is much more difficult, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin commented to Vedomosti daily.
Still, on the 35th place Russia was proclaimed as "the biggest winner" of the latest Doing Business report by the Financial Times. Russia was ranked only one place below Japan and ahead of dozen EU states such as Italy or Belgium.
In the 2017 report, Russia was one of 34 economies that had implemented regulatory reforms making it easier to do business in three or more of the 10 areas. In particular, it has made it easier to transfer property by reducing the time needed to apply for state registration of title transfer in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, the two cities included in the ranking. Russia also improved access to credit in both cities by adopting a new law that establishes a modern collateral registry.
In regard to trading across borders, the report notes: "Russia made exporting and importing easier by opening a new deep water port on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, increasing competition and reducing the cost of border compliance at the Port of St. Petersburg."
Some of the reforms that have been carried out were too late to be accounted for in the latest report, which leaves room for a faster advance next year, Oreshkin told Vedomosti.
Russia, like other countries that have moved up the ranks quickly, is among one of the countries that has set up special procedures to comply with Doing Business methodology as part of the internal procedures of some government bodies, which has contributed to its higher ranking in the index.
The scope of the measurement, however, is far from exhaustive, according to analysts. Indeed, Valentina Saltane, a bank researcher working on the Doing Business report, told the Financial Times that: “Doing Business does not measure corruption, nepotism, macroeconomic stability, [or] political freedom and informality.”
Analysts surveyed by Vedomosti daily also doubted the accuracy of some of the indicators, such as the minority shareholders' rights protection, in which Russia rose two ranks in the reporting year, despite a number of serious setbacks in the field, such as information limitation law.
In the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report Russia was ranked 38th among the 138 countries surveyed, moving up five places and said to be "rebounding strongly from the 2015–16 recession". This was a faster advance than it made in 2016 when it moved up by only two places in 2016. However, the latest Global Competitiveness Report notes that despite the progress, Russia's economy remains highly dependent on mineral exports and its prospects remain uncertain.
The weak links in the Russian economy include the financial market (ranked 107th), in particular the banking sector, the report said, joining Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's in their concerns over banking stability and the cost of the ongoing banking sector clean-up.
Other weak categories include aspects of institutional quality such as property rights (106th), judicial independence (90th), and corruption, which remains one of the most problematic factors for doing business.
Another international rating, the 2017 Economic Freedom Index compiled by the Heritage Foundation in February, placed Russia in the 114th position in the 'Mostly Unfree' category (which includes countries from the 93rd to 157th rank) with a score of 57.1 of 100.
Although compared with last year's survey Russia's score gained 6.5pp, the report by the conservative US think tank commented that the country's economy is "severely hampered by blatant disdain for the rule of law and for the concept of limited government".