A European country wins top slot in a best-to-do business poll

Zurich Cityscape, Switzerland
Zurich Cityscape, Switzerland Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Doloresz Katanich
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Countries from Europe, the Middle East and Africa were judged across nine categories, including fair and predictable tax, governance, availability of skilled workers, and public health and sustainability.


Switzerland has been voted the most attractive place to do business in a recent poll looking at 33 countries within Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Most of the highest-ranking countries considered best for business were in northern Europe, the PwC poll found.  

PwC's Private Business Attractiveness Index 2023 looked at the countries within the EMEA regions, judging them on nine categories and looking at 64 sets of numbers across the different categories. Judgements were from "emerging" to "leading" in each section when referring to attractiveness for private businesses. 

In the ranking, France was at the bottom of the list of the so-called "leading" countries, with the highest scores. Estonia closed the ranks of the second-best "advancing" category. The countries scoring between 40 and 50 are described as "developing" places for businesses and the bottom of the list are described as "emerging" jurisdictions, with Greece having the highest score among them. 

Among the top countries, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands improved their rankings compared with last year's poll while Norway dropped from second place to sixth in 2023. Since the report first came out three years ago, the UK's position has remained static, in seventh place. 

High inflation and a sharp rise in the cost of living left a mark on this study too, with developed countries having lower GDP expectations and soaring costs. 

The report emphasises, however, the importance of factors beyond GDP growth or other financial numbers in favour of indicators that tell about long-term fundamentals. 

PwC Germany partner Peter Englisch, wrote in the report. "This includes fortifying resilient infrastructure, fostering a thriving start-up landscape with varied funding paths, committing to clear Net Zero objectives legally, and advocating for forward-thinking gender policies combined with strong public governance." 

What the top countries do very well

According to the report, Switzerland is strongest in the categories tackling the start-up ecosystem, private business landscape, tax and regulation and education and skills. 

Sweden also scored highly in how it provides a positive and supportive environment for private businesses as well as start-ups but outstripped the top candidate and scored the highest on sustainability and climate. Social responsibility and governance, public health and technology and infrastructure were also higher in Sweden than in Switzerland. Its macroeconomic indicator, however, was the lowest of all the 33 countries. 

The report suggested that, for a country to become attractive for businesses in the long term, it is key to not only focus on one or two attributes, such as offering low tax rates, but to find a balance across all the categories, for example from skills to infrastructure and beyond.

It also noted that Germany, widely called the "sick man of Europe" over the past months, having suffered a technical recession and high inflation, had still managed to increase its overall attractiveness among businesses, hopping from fourth place to third, according to the ranking. The country's start-up ecosystem was seen as very attractive, the scores for treating private businesses were high, and it offered good technology and infrastructure. However, Germany's sustainability and social responsibility scores were moderate and low, respectively. 

If judged only for its start-up ecosystem, the UK was seen as the place to go while  technology and infrastructure were considered best in the Netherlands. Portugal and Spain scored highly on macroeconomic expectations.

Public health and social responsibility and governance received the lowest marks on average among all the countries.

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