S’pore is easiest city in the world to do business

S’pore is easiest city in the world to do business 

It is also top in region for economic stability and legal/political framework: Survey

By Michelle Tay 


SINGAPORE has leapfrogged rival Hong Kong in a ranking of the most influential commercial centres around the world.

The Republic is now the second most influential centre in Asia, just behind Tokyo, according to the survey, which is said to be used by multinationals to help guide investment decisions.


Singapore sits in fourth spot globally in the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, up two places from last year. Hong Kong fell from fifth to sixth.


Although the Republic trails London, New York and Tokyo, it beat them in terms of a key criterion used to compile the ranking – the ease of doing business.


In last year’s inaugural ranking, Singapore came in fourth in this area, which covers a range of factors, including quality of life, investor protection, health and safety, and corporate tax levels.


Mr Mark Ellwood, the managing director of recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore, attributed the high score to how easy it is to set up a business and to hire foreign talent here.


Mrs Mildred Tan, the managing director of Ernst & Young Associates, said: ‘Singapore is very pro-business, and institutions gravitate towards environments that are open and welcoming.’


She called the ranking a ‘positive reinforcement’ for firms considering doing business in the Republic.


‘When it comes to relocation, they will look at various things, from tax incentives to telecommunications infrastructure. The study will be another indicator for them whether to start here, to remain here, or to grow here.’


Singapore was also top in the Asia-Pacific for two of the other six criteria used in the ranking: economic stability and the legal/political framework.


The ranking of 75 cities is drawn up by a panel of academics and other experts.


It serves as ‘a road map for corporations to identify and evaluate investment and market opportunities in a world where cities, instead of countries, have become the primary economic players’, said Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s economic adviser.


He said Asia ‘is experiencing a renaissance in terms of economic growth and social development’.


Eight Asian cities feature in the top 25 this year, up from five last year. ‘The growth performance of China and India has shifted the economic centre of gravity towards Asia,’ said Dr Hedrick-Wong.


Mr Manu Bhaskaran, the head of economic research at the Centennial Group and one of the eight members of the Worldwide Centres of Commerce research panel, said that given time, Singapore could overtake Tokyo as the top Asian centre of commerce.


‘Tokyo has not opened up the way the US, Europe, Dubai and Singapore have,’ he said, adding that Singapore’s absolute score of 66.16 points was not far behind that of Tokyo (66.6).


The other four criteria used in the ranking are volume and connectivity of financial flow, reputation as a business centre, knowledge creation and information flow, and liveability.


One of Singapore’s biggest challenges appears to be its place in the bottom half of the 75 cities in terms of liveability.


While Vancouver in Canada emerged as the world’s most liveable city, Singapore ranked 40th – or fifth in the Asia-Pacific.


MasterCard said a relative lack of personal freedom dragged its score down.


As was the case last year, the top three places in the study went to London, New York and Tokyo, in that order.


First-timers in the top 25 include Shanghai and Amsterdam.


Mr Bhaskaran said the Chinese city could rise further, as it was ‘sitting on top’ of what is probably the most dynamic economy for the next 20 to 30 years.



Strong showing


SINGAPORE‘S sterling ranking is the result of its strong position in the Asia-Pacific.


Here’s how the Republic fared in the region based on the seven criteria used:


·  Legal/political framework: No. 1


·  Economic stability: No. 1


·  Ease of doing business: No. 1


·  Volume and connectivity of financial flow: No. 4


·  Reputation as a business centre: No. 2


·  Knowledge creation and information flow: No. 4


·  Liveability: No. 5







Top 10 cities

TOP IN REGION: Tokyo maintained its third spot in this year’s survey, making it the highest ranked city in the Asia-Pacific. — PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

THE MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index ranked 75 cities according to their ability to connect markets and commerce on a global level.


At the top are:


1. London


2. New York


3. Tokyo


4. Singapore


5. Chicago


6. Hong Kong


7. Paris


8. Frankfurt


9. Seoul


10. Amsterdam


Source: Straits Times

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