Singapore has been ranked the most competitive city in Asia, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The “Hot Spots: Benchmarking Global City Competitiveness” report also identified Singapore as the third most competitive city in the world, after economic and financial hubs New York and London.
The report covered a total of 120 global markets, assessed on the basis of 21 qualitative and 10 quantitative indicators.
It defines competitiveness as the “demonstrated ability to attract capital, business, talent and visitors”.
In Asia, Singapore topped the list as most competitive, followed by Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Asian cities dominated the economic strength category, the most highly weighted category. Fifteen of the top 20 cities for economic strength are from Asia, with 12 in China.
Singapore rated highly in categories of physical capital (joint 1st), financial maturity (joint 1st), institutional effectiveness (6th) and global appeal (4th).
The report, which was commissioned by Citi, attributes Singapore’s strong position to its efficient transport system, lean bureaucracy and safe environment.
It also took into account Singapore’s ability to attract capital and business.
Mr Michael Zink, head of ASEAN and Citi country officer for Singapore said: “It’s a terrific place to do business – it’s a very open and global city and we have the opportunity to compete fairly and evenly against the domestic players.
“The playing field here is quite level. So as long as we can continue to compete domestically, we’ll continue to invest. And as long as Singapore maintains its competitiveness against other financial centres around the world, I can see us continuing to bring more and more activity into Singapore.”
The Economic Development Board (EDB) said the favourable ranking is testament to Singapore’s appeal as a global business location.
Mr Leo Yip, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), said: “Our strong attributes of trust, knowledge, connectivity and liveability have underpinned our ability to attract investments, business, talent and ideas.”
He added that Singapore’s competitiveness has made it an attractive location for MNCs and global mid-sized companies to manage their business, innovation and talent, in order to tap growth opportunities in Asia.
He said Singapore is also becoming a strategic location for Asian companies to build capability to grow in international markets.
Last year, Singapore attracted S$13 billion in fixed asset investments, and the EDB expects this figure to hit almost S$15 billion this year.
Singapore did well in most categories of the report. However, experts said it is lacking in some areas and needs to do more to boost its human capital, entrepreneurship and risk attitudes in order to stay ahead of the game.
Mr Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, senior editor, Asia, Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “In order to keep up its performance, it needs to continue to plan, to continue to invest in physical infrastructure, and continue to have open transparent policies.
“In terms of overtaking New York and London, I think some of the areas where Singapore falls short are its performance in terms of social and culture capital, and human capital.
“In terms of specific indicators, I think Singapore does not score very highly in entrepreneurship and risk-taking mindset. It does not score highly in terms of population growth, and it doesn’t score highly in terms of freedom of expression and human rights.
“I think these are all several things that have been challenges that Singapore has been facing for some time now. I think everybody is aware of them.
“We have been making efforts to address them, to increase and improve the entrepreneurial culture of the city for instance. These do not happen overnight.
“I think Singapore still has some way to go in terms of improving these measures vis-a-vis New York and London. It requires not just investments and policies, but broader societal changes in attitudes and mindsets.”
Experts said Singapore cannot rest on its laurels as fast growing ‘middle-tier’ cities like Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, and Surabaya in Indonesia are likely to grow in competitiveness in the coming years.
Source : Channel NewsAsia – 13 Mar 2012