Asia-Pacific: The most-improved region over the last decade
The Asia-Pacific region is the most-improved region over the last decade. Although it is still the 5th-ranked region, it has overtaken the global average, and very nearly closed the gap with Latin America and the Caribbean, for the reasons below.
- The Asia-Pacific region has seen the greatest improvement in market access and infrastructure, with all countries improving. Electricity in Vietnam (72nd) has become much more accessible and reliable, and the international internet bandwidth in Kazakhstan (77th) is nearly 50 times what it was in 2009.
- The Asia-Pacific region has seen the greatest improvement in enterprise conditions of all regions, with 17 countries improving. The red-tape cutting drive of President Modi in India (42nd) is an example of this; the number of tax payments per year has fallen to 12 from over 40 in 2009, and firms spent on average a third of the time complying with regulations in 2019 than they did in 2009.
- The Asia-Pacific region is the most improved for living conditions due to declining poverty rates, with fewer people suffering undernourishment, and increased connectivity to water services. This improvement is most evident in Vietnam (86th), where an additional 20 million people have access to piped water, and the proportion of the population in extreme poverty, at 2%, is a tenth of what it was in 2009.
- Personal Freedom is the only pillar to have deteriorated across Asia-Pacific, particularly in Thailand (120th) after the 2014 coup d’état that led to a military junta assuming power. Across the region, there has also been a crackdown on press freedom, and the rights of assembly, association, and free speech remain vestigial. Despite the regional decline, 18 countries saw an improvement in personal freedoms.