Ian Latham, New Zealand’s honorary consul in Atlanta, thinks that Georgia’s carpet companies would agree with the World Bank survey naming New Zealand as the most business-friendly country in the world.

“New Zealand’s regulatory environment is very open and easy to negotiate, its governmental, banking and finance structures are very familiar to westerners and integrity issues like honesty in doing business are very positive,” Mr. Latham said.

In the recently released report, New Zealand and Singapore were named the two easiest countries in which to do business out of 155 surveyed. The United States ranked third, followed by Canada. The top ranking countries had simple regulations for doing business that protected property rights and provided social services.

The study cited New Zealand as having the most user-friendly environment in which to start a business, hire and fire employees, recover investments from bankrupt firms and enforce contracts in court, among other factors.

He said that New Zealand exporters are doing increasing business with Georgia because New Zealand is the world’s leading producer of wool for high-end carpets, and many of the U.S. mills that make these carpets are located in Georgia.

Mr. Latham, who has been New Zealand’s honorary consul here since 1995, added that Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc. is a major importer of New Zealand lumber, including moldings and trim.

China has apparently taken note of New Zealand’s agreeable business climate and has chosen to do business with the South Pacific country for the same reasons the World Bank cited, Mr. Latham said.

“New Zealand is currently negotiating the world’s first free trade agreement with China. This is to be a test case for free trade with China and a model for subsequent agreements around the world,” he asserted.

China placed 91st out of the 155 countries in the World Bank study, while Hong Kong placed seventh. Most of the countries listed as the better places to do business were technologically advanced nations such as Australia, Britain, Denmark and Norway. Zimbabwe ranked last.

New Zealand was also No. 1 in the World Bank’s study last year.

Contact Mr. Latham at (404) 745-4551 or newzealand@mindspring.com