S’pore leapfrogs HK as a financial centre

S’pore leapfrogs HK as a financial centre

Survey ranks it fourth worldwide but expert says it can’t stand still

 

 

By JOYCE HOOI

 

 

(SINGAPORE) Singapore climbed to fourth place on MasterCard’s Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index this year, leapfrogging Chicago and Hong Kong along the way. It is now the number two city in Asia in this ranking of financial centres – with only Tokyo ahead of it.

 

 

‘The Centers of Commerce Index is a roadmap 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 Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s economic adviser in Asia-Pacific.

 

The index surveyed 75 cities using seven key indicators of varying weightages that evaluated a city’s legal and political framework, economic stability, ease of doing business, financial flow, business centre, knowledge creation and information flow, and livability.

 

Singapore‘s ranking was driven by its strong showing in relation to the ease of doing business and its legal and political framework indicators, in which it ranked first and second overall, respectively.

 

Manu Bhaskaran, a member of the panel behind the index, attributed Singapore’s strength in these areas to prudent government leadership in facilitating commerce,

 

‘The government has made the right decisions in cutting taxes, bringing in talent and focusing on integrated resorts,’ said Mr Bhaskaran at the briefing on the index yesterday.

 

He is, however, quick to caution against complacency. ‘Singapore tends to do well in the ‘process areas’ which are related to bureaucracy. But other people can learn this formula and mimic it,’ he said.

 

Instead, Singapore would do well to shore up its competence in the knowledge creation and liveability areas, he said.

 

It is currently ranked 40th for liveability – an indicator measuring elements like personal freedom and quality of life. ‘To generate more knowledge creation, Singapore should keep adding more universities and encouraging foreign talent,’ said Mr Bhaskaran.

 

Singapore also has its work cut out if it wants to break into the top three, which is illustrated by the fact that the top three positions have been retained this year by London, New York and Tokyo.

 

‘London and New York possess critical mass, having amassed a concentration of analysts, investment banks and the support services that accompany them. Critical mass is something that we lack, especially in the financial flows area,’ said Mr Bhaskaran.

 

The key to overcoming this limitation is cross-border integration and higher levels of economic growth within the Asean region, he revealed. ‘Singapore has to be the capital city in the economic sense in Asean, in order for it to be in the top two,’ he said.

 

Source: Business Times

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