Japan, Australian and the U.S. are the countries with the most cloud-friendly policies and laws, according to a study from the BSA-The Software Alliance, an industry group.

Forbes reports that while many of the world’s biggest IT markets have stalled or even moved backward, others are embracing laws and regulations conducive to cloud innovation. The study also finds that policy fragmentation continues to be an issue, especially as some countries adopt laws and regulations that inhibit cross-border data flows or skew international competition in an effort to promote local cloud markets.

The BSA ranked nations on the basis of their support for data privacy; security; cybercrime prevention; intellectual property rights; free trade; industry-led standards; information technology readiness; and broadband deployments, Forbes reports.

The top 10 ranked countries in terms of cloud environments are:

  1. Japan
  2. Australia
  3. U.S.
  4. Germany
  5. Singapore
  6. France
  7. United Kingdom
  8. South Korea
  9. Canada
  10. Italy

The biggest mover in the ranks is Singapore, which jumped five places in the rankings from a year ago. The city-nation’s new privacy law “recognizes people’s right to protect their personal information and companies’ need to use data for reasonable purposes,” the report notes.

Implementing international IP agreements boosted Canada, Russia and India in the rankings as well.

However, policy improvements in many of the world’s biggest IT markets have stalled, the report notes. All six European Union countries covered in the study lost ground in the rankings this year.

Trade agreements are an important component of a nation’s cloud competitiveness and should encourage the free movement of data and applications across borders, the report says.