Asian Cities Are World’s Strongest Economically - Report

Tara Loader Wilkinson Editor Asia 14 March 2012

Asian Cities Are World’s Strongest Economically - Report

Three-quarters of the world’s economically strongest cities are based in Asia, proving once again the ongoing power shift from West to East, according to a new report.

Fifteen out of 20 of the top cities are based in Asia while 12 are in China, according to the ranking of 120 of the world’s major cities commissioned by US lender Citi and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In terms of overall competitiveness, Singapore ranked first in Asia and third globally.

The report, entitled Hot Spots, ranks the most competitive cities in the world for their ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists.

The ten most competitive cities in Asia are: Singapore (3rd globally), Hong Kong (joint 4th), Tokyo, (6th), Seoul (joint 20th), Auckland (36th), Taipei (joint 37th), and Beijing (39th).

“Asia’s economic rise is clearly reflected in the economic strength of its cities,” said Citi Asia-Pacific chief executive Stephen Bird. “Cities are engines of global growth that are transforming the landscape of investment, talent and business.”

In terms of 'economic strength,' the most highly weighted category, 15 of the top 20 cities are in Asia. Twelve of these cities are in China. Tianjin, Shenzhen and Dalian top the list, while nine other Chinese cities rank in the top 20. Singapore (15th), Bangalore (16th), Ahmedabad (19th) and Hanoi (joint 20th) complete the top 20. The top 32 Asian cities are all forecast to grow by at least 5 per cent annually between now and 2016. Twelve of them will grow by at least 10 per cent, forecast the report. 

West still holds appeal

While Asian cities are the strongest economically, US and European cities are the most competitive overall, said the report.

“Economic dynamism is definitely rising elsewhere, especially in Asian cities, but US and European cities have legacy advantages that give them a strong competitive edge,” said Leo Abruzzese, the EIU’s global forecasting director. “In particular, these developed cities are better at attracting top talent from across the world.”

The most significant advantage that developed country cities hold is their ability to develop and attract the world’s top talent.

European and American cities dominate the human capital category of the index, as they are able to continue to attract capital, businesses, talent and tourists despite concerns over ageing infrastructure and large budget deficits. It will be key for these Western cities to harness their legacy advantages and global connectivity to continue to compete and succeed against fast-growing emerging market cities.

The ten most competitive cities in the world are: New York (1st), London (2nd), Singapore (3rd), Paris and Hong Kong (joint 4th), Tokyo, (6th), Zurich (7th), Washington, DC (8th), Chicago (9th), and Boston (10th).

For Hot Spots, the EIU developed a “Global City Competitiveness Index” that measures cities across eight categories of competitiveness and 31 individual indicators. Categories include economic strength, human capital, institutional effectiveness, financial maturity, global appeal, physical capital, social and cultural character and environment and natural hazards. A city’s overall ranking in the benchmark index is a weighted score of the underlying categories. 

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