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Thursday, May 30, 2019, 01:24
HK vows to shore up competitiveness
By Oswald Chan
Thursday, May 30, 2019, 01:24 By Oswald Chan

HONG KONG-The Hong Kong government has pledged to enhance the competitiveness and vibrancy of the city’s economy by being both a facilitator and a promoter.

The pledge came after the SAR remained the world’s second most competitive economy in the latest report by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development.

“Amid the keen competition among global economies, we must keep up the effort in consolidating our prevailing competitive advantages, including an open and free market, an efficient public sector and a favorable business environment with a level playing field,” a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“At the same time, we'll also step up investing in infrastructure, innovation and technology, nurturing talents and increasing land supply to create a favorable environment for Hong Kong’s long-term economic development,” the spokesperson said.

According to the IMD’s 2019 World Competitive Rankings report, a benign and business policy environment and access to business finance has helped Hong Kong to shore up as the world’s second most competitive economy although the city needs to improve in the categories of economic performance and business efficiency.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted the strength of the SAR’s financial market in opening remarks at the Second Biotech Summit on Wednesday.

“Hong Kong is already the world’s second-largest fund-raising center or the biotech industry. With its comprehensive legal system and international connections, the city is vying to become the world’s largest fund-raising center for the biotech industry,” she said.

Lam believes the depth and liquidity of Hong Kong’s capital market is a competitive edge that can satisfy the technology sector’s financing needs. Moreover, the city’s proximity to the Chinese mainland also offers advantages for biotech enterprises and investors aiming to expand in the SAR.

The World Competitiveness Rankings, established in 1989 at the IMD business school in Switzerland, incorporates 235 indicators from each of the 63 ranked economies. Singapore was ranked first and Hong Kong second, followed by the United States, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Singapore toppled the US as the world’s most competitive economy for the first time since 2010 in the ranking survey when the US slipped from the top spot to third position, and Singapore’s ranking jumped from the third to first.

The IMD said the Lion City’s rise to the top was driven by its advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labor, favorable immigration laws, and efficient ways to set up new businesses. The US slide is mainly attributed to higher fuel prices, weaker high-technology exports, fluctuations in the value of the greenback and the fading of the positive effect of President Donald Trump’s first wave of tax policies.

Among the four major pillars used to measure competitiveness, Hong Kong maintained the top ranking in government efficiency for the fifth consecutive year. The city slipped one spot to second in business efficiency and dipped one spot to 10th in economic performance. Benefiting from the government’s increased investment in areas such as infrastructure and innovation and technology, as well as education, Hong Kong’s ranking edged up to the 22nd spot in infrastructure.

However, some other research institutions are less optimistic, saying Hong Kong is performing poorly in spending on research, development and patent generation of technology.

The Innovation Geographies Study published by real-estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle this month showed that Hong Kong failed to join the world’s top 20 most innovative cities.

“In terms of talent concentration and innovation, Hong Kong falls short in employment in the high-technology sector, and the city has not performed well in spending on research and development, as well as patent generation,” said Dennis Ma, head of research at JLL in Hong Kong.

The report nevertheless recognized Hong Kong’s high ranking in tertiary education with a number of well-respected universities, and good performance in attracting foreign direct investment in high-technology industries, as well as venture capital funding.

oswald@chinadailyhk.com

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