14:15 GMT25 September 2020
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    The Russian president made the comments at the first-ever Russia-Africa summit and economic forum in Sochi, attended by 43 of the continent’s 54 nations.

    President Vladimir Putin decided to add some levity in his comments on Russia’s improving ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rating on Thursday, praising Mauritius’ acting president Barlen Vyapoory in the process.

    “Mr. President, I must say that you are being indiscreet. You’ve moved from 28th to 13th place in the Doing Business ranking, while Russia moved from 31st place to 28th. We’ve taken your spot,” Putin said.

    Mauritius President Vyapoory responded with a thumbs-up as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov could be seen breaking into laughter behind Putin. The Russian president then congratulated his counterpart on his country’s success.

    According to the World Bank’s recently released Doing Business 2020 report, which measures business regulations across some 190 countries, Russia has overtaken Rwanda, Spain and Azerbaijan to place 28th, behind Austria.

    The World Bank report ranked Russia favourably in several areas, including ease of access to electricity, protection of minority investors, and the ease of paying taxes.

    Mauritius, meanwhile, saw a much greater leap, from 28th to 13th, boasting advantages including a streamlined issuance of construction permits, property registration, contract enforcement, and ability to resolve insolvency.

    Putin first committed to reforming Russia’s business regulatory environment to allow Russia to join the Doing Business ranking’s top 20 in 2012.

    The ranking’s top 10 now include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark, South Korea, the United States, Georgia, the UK, Norway and Sweden.

    Russia and Egypt co-chaired the Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum on Wednesday and Thursday, with representatives from all 54 African states in attendance, including the heads of state or government from some 43 countries. Russian presidential adviser Anton Kobyakov said Thursday that the forum had proven fruitful, with Moscow and African nations signing over 500 agreements worth over 800 billion rubles ($12 billion) at the forum.


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