Tokyo Asia’s Leading Centre of Commerce: Study

SINGAPORE ~ Tokyo is Asia’s leading centre of commerce but London is number one in the world, said a study released this week by MasterCard.

Three other Asian cities – Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore – ranked among the world’s top 10, according to the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index.

In a press release, MasterCard called its index “the most comprehensive analysis to date of how major cities compare in performing critical functions that connect markets and commerce globally.”

Tokyo earned its top Asia Pacific ranking for factors including its Aaa Moody’s foreign currency government bond rating, ease in dealing with licenses, a stable inflation rate, high level of health, safety and other services, overall quality of life, aviation connectivity and number of patent applications, MasterCard said.

“I believe that these results were achieved by Tokyo possessing, among a spectrum of commercial attractions, an advanced urban infrastructure and one of the safest and most secure living environments in the world,” the press release quoted Tokyo’s governor, Shintaro Ishihara, as saying.

London topped the chart with an index value of 77.79, followed by New York with 73.80, Tokyo at 68.09, Chicago with 67.19, Hong Kong at 62.32, Singapore 61.95, Frankfurt 61.34, Paris 61.19, Seoul 60.70 and Los Angeles 59.05.

Other Asia Pacific cities in the top 50 were: Sydney, ranked 14th, Shanghai 32nd, Melbourne 34th, Bangkok 36th, Kuala Lumpur 38th, Mumbai 45th and Beijing 46th, the study said.

Dubai ranked 37th overall and was the top-placed Middle East city.

Eight independent experts on urban development, economics and social science compiled the index, which rated 63 cities according to their legal and political framework, economic stability, ease of doing business, financial flow, business centre status, and knowledge creation and information flow, the press release said.

The experts, mostly university professors, are based at institutions in China, Singapore, Canada, Britain and the United States, it said.

Over four months, they evaluated data and criteria related to costs, quality of life, access to technology and other factors in a process which, MasterCard said, exceeds traditional measures used to gauge financial and business activity.

London’s number-one rating came from its flexible business operating environment, strong global financial connections and exceptionally high levels of international trade, travel and conferences, it said.

Seoul scored high marks for its higher education system and patent output, while Hong Kong and Singapore boasted top rankings for the strength of their business climate and their prominence in the global financial network, MasterCard said.

“Singapore also rates high for government policies that favor international business and trade,” it said.

But Hong Kong edged out the city-state partly because of the smaller number of equity transaction in Singapore. Hong Kong also scored better in measures related to its business climate, MasterCard said.

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