Singapore has been crowned the most business-friendly economy in the world for the eighth year in a row, beating perennial bridesmaid Hong Kong into second. 

The league table compiled by the World Bank said that Singapore's regulatory environment was highly beneficial for local entrepreneurs. 

It cited the introduction of an online procedure that made property transfers easier and laws that give borrowers the right to inspect their own data, a step that improves the country's credit information system. 

Mr Babatunde Onitiri, the Singapore head of International Finance Corp, a World Bank unit, said yesterday: "The Government promotes policies that encourage entrepreneurship and facilitate business, thus attracting more investors to start businesses in this country." 

However, local economists pointed out that the World Bank rankings do not take into account other vital factors for investment decisions, such as business costs. 

Singapore's top spot this year was "not unexpected if you take cost out of the equation", said Barclays economist Leong Wai Ho. 

Pointing to rising rents and labour costs, he added: "Because of congestion and myriad other factors such as tightening immigration flows, costs in some areas would have gone up disproportionately." 

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun said businesses would also look at ease of hiring and the economy's competitiveness, but the extreme ease of doing business here "will at least offset some other issues". 

After Singapore and Hong Kong, the top 10 comprised New Zealand in third, then the United States, Denmark, Malaysia, South Korea, Georgia, Norway and Britain. 

The report looked at 189 economies along 10 indicators, including starting a business, trading across borders and resolving insolvency.

It covered the 12 months to June 30 this year.

Singapore was ranked second in terms of competitiveness by the World Economic Forum in September, behind Switzerland.