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Researching New Zealand’s Laws Related to “Doing Business”

Beehive and Parliament house, Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Flickr user Peter, March 7, 2007. Used under Creative Commons License.

On October 31, 2017, the World Bank released the fifteenth edition of its Doing Business report, subtitled “Reforming to Create Jobs.” As with the fourteenth edition, New Zealand was given the highest “ease of doing business” ranking among 190 countries.

The report explains that “[t]he overall measure of the ease of doing business gives an indication of where it is easier for domestic small and medium-size firms to do business” (Doing Business 2018, at 3). It “provides quantitative indicators on regulation for starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency,” and also measures features of labor market regulation (Id. at 11). In terms of the data used for the report, the Doing Business indicators are based mostly on laws and regulations: “approximately two-thirds of the data embedded in the Doing Business indicators are based on a reading of the law” (Id. at 16). The World Bank Doing Business research team collects the texts of relevant laws and regulations and compares these against questionnaire responses provided by experts in each country (mostly legal professionals, but also accountants, engineers, architects, and businesspeople). The World Bank states that,

[b]y gathering and analyzing comprehensive quantitative data to compare business regulation environments across economies and over time, Doing Business encourages economies to compete towards more efficient regulation; offers measurable benchmarks for reform; and serves as a resource for academics, journalists, private sector researchers and others interested in the business climate of each economy.

Based on the indicators and data, the World Bank produces not only a global report, but also separate regional reports and thematic reports. You can also look at the information related to the different indicators for each country (e.g., New Zealand).

Another resource on the Doing Business website that might be of particular interest to researchers and policy makers is the “Law Library,” which is the “largest free online collection of business laws and regulations.” The site enables users to create lists of laws by country, region, income group, and topic, and provides links to the laws themselves where possible. For example, selecting “N” and then “New Zealand,” and “all” laws returns a report that lists about 60 legal instruments, each with a link to the instrument itself in New Zealand’s official legislation database.

If you’re looking for laws related to doing business in New Zealand, another great place to start is the website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Its “Law and Policy” page lets you view laws by topic (links are again to the New Zealand Legislation website). There are also links to information on particular policy areas for which the Ministry is responsible.

For some of the areas covered by the Doing Business report, other government websites would also be helpful. This includes the website of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), which provides detailed information and guidance relating to various business tax law topics, including taxes on business income, Goods and Services Tax (GST), payroll taxes, and international aspects of taxation. The website of Employment New Zealand, which is part of MBIE, has information about labor laws, including an Employment Law Database containing rulings of relevant authorities, and also provides various tools and other resources for both workers and employers.

In addition, MBIE’s business.govt.nz website provides “tools and advice from across government to save you time and help make your business a success.” For example, there is a 9-step guide to starting a business, which includes “look into regulations.” This guide then links to the Compliance Matters page on the site, where people can find content on different regulatory topics, provided by multiple government agencies, relevant to their specific circumstances.

For people in other countries interested in doing business in or with New Zealand, embassy websites provide brief information and links to relevant resources. In addition, the “New Zealand Now” website, which promotes New Zealand to potential immigrants and investors, has information about the business environment in New Zealand, including references to the World Bank’s ranking and other international indexes, and highlights the country’s simplification of rules and taxes. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also has resources to help New Zealand exporters access international markets.

Of course, a researcher interested in the background and development of the current regulatory environment in New Zealand, or who wishes to take an in depth look at certain topics, will likely need to look beyond these online resources. Searching the Library of Congress catalog for items on New Zealand tax law, commercial law, or labor law, for example, returns multiple results covering several decades. If you need help with your research, use the Ask a Librarian page to submit your query.

Auckland Central Business District. Photo by Flickr user Allan Bergman, June 29, 2013. Used under Creative Commons License.

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