Contract efficacy, property registration, foreign trade and bankruptcy management. These are the factors that permitted Italy to improve its position in the Doing Business 2014 classification, the annual analysis compiled by the World Bank to analyze the level of competitiveness of the 189 economies taken into consideration. Italy – according to Doing Business – moved from the 73rd position to the 65th, in the rank order that defines the business environment on the basis of ten parameters: starting a business, construction permits, connection to the electric grid, property registration, access to credit, investor protection, taxation, foreign commerce, efficacy of contracts and bankruptcy management. The improvement through the ranks is surely a piece of good news even if, it must be said, it does not reflect the weight of the Italian economy in the world and, for this reason, highlights the large room for improvement concerning the factors analyzed in the report: if we overlook the four so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, Italy has a lower rank than all the other large global economies, and is outperformed in efficiency and competitiveness by many countries with a lesser economic significance.

It is important to discuss the steps forward taken in the four categories that led to the advancement in the ranks more deeply. Firstly, in terms of property transfers, Italy jumped from the 54th position to the 34th, compared to the average of 58 for OSCE countries, and clearly surpassed the performance of France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom. In our country, completing a property transfer – that is defining the transaction such that the new deed holder can make use of it, use it as collateral for a loan, or resell it – requires four procedures which can be completed in 16 days for a cost equaling 4.4% of the structure’s value. The improvement came in two steps: in 2012 the cadastral maps were digitalized, and made available to notaries via the web, and in 2013 the requirement of the electrical efficiency certificate was eliminated for commercial structures without a furnace.

Regarding contracts, that is to say, the resolution of commercial dispute, Italy remains far from the OSCE average, 36th, but it nonetheless reached the 103rd position from the 140th: they require an average of 185 days, 37 procedures, and costs totaling 23% of the demanded amount. It is precisely in terms of the costs that the most significant efficiency improvements were registered, thanks to the regulations of tariffs for lawyers and a rationalization of the judicial procedures.

Exporting a standard container from Italy requires 3 documents, 19 days, and an average of 1195 dollars; importing it requires 3 documents, 18 days, and 1145 dollars: figures that position Italy at the 56th rank worldwide, according to Doing Business 2014. Italy, which climbed a few position in this category, generally requires a lower number of documents compared to the OSCE country average.

The last factor to discuss, even if there was no improvement in terms of the World Bank global rankings, is the management of bankruptcy. Italy instead slid to the 33rd position from the 30th in 2012; however, the report highlights, “it has made resolving insolvency easier through modifications to the bankruptcy code.”