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World Bank Calls Singapore Easiest Place to Do Business

Singapore has been ranked the world's easiest place to conduct business and Japan's trade surplus almost quadrupled in August. Claudia Blume at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on these and other business stories from the region.

For the second year in a row, the World Bank has ranked Singapore as the world's easiest place to do business. Singapore topped the list because of its efficient business procedures, many of which can be done online.

New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong are also among the top 10 business-friendly countries. The World Bank report says that both China and India are making progress in implementing reforms that make business easier there.

A report surveying leading Asian companies on their policies on climate change and carbon emissions says some businesses across the region are stepping up efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.

Melissa Brown is executive director of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, which did the report. She says the companies include Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific, consumer goods company ITC in India and Taiwan computer maker Acer.

She says South Korea is Asia's most environmentally proactive country, outside of Japan.

"A big part of this is a reflection of policies from the Korean government where the government unusually has been very proactive despite the fact they are not Kyoto protocol and Annex One participants and do not have to meet fixed informal targets right now," Brown said.

Japan's trade surplus in August nearly quadrupled from a year ago, to $6.5 billion.

The increase - the biggest in 24 years - was mainly driven by strong exports of automobiles and communication equipment to the rest of Asia and Europe.

China's biggest coal miner, China Shenhua Energy, raised a record eight-point-nine -billion dollars in its initial public offering on the Shanghai stock market. It was China's largest domestic IPO to date, topping the share offering of China Construction Bank just a day earlier. The bank, which started trading in Shanghai, raised seven-point-seven billion dollars. Both Shenhua and China Construction Bank were already listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.