South China Morning Post
Wednesday March 14 2012
|HK workforce ranked 'best in Asia'|
Austin Chiu and Dennis Chong
Hong Kong's workforce is the most productive in Asia, a report says, helping the city rank as the fourth most competitive in the world.
But poor environmental protection cost Hong Kong the top spot in Asia as it was pipped by Singapore, which ranked third in the world. New York topped the list ahead of London.
The report, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for Citigroup, ranked 120 cities in terms of their economic strength, financial maturity and global appeal.
While Hong Kong ranks level with Singapore in many areas, it lags far behind on environmental and natural hazards, falling outside the global top 50, behind even Guangzhou.
Only Dublin bettered Hong Kong in respect of human capital, which measures the size of a city's working population, the quality of education and health care and the ease of hiring and firing foreign nationals.
The report praises Hong Kong as a relatively dense and compact city, contrasting it with the urban sprawl of places like Mexico City.
Business groups and environmentalists urged the city's leaders to heed the report's message on the environment. David O'Rear, chief economist at the General Chamber of Commerce, said: 'It is very important that we have a clean and healthy environment. We can do a lot better.'
Helen Choy, general manager of environmental group Clean Air Network, said the city needed to change its mindset on pollution issues.
She said: 'Officials should look at other cities and notice that the economy will not be affected if more measures are in place to improve the environment.'
While cities from the United States and Europe make up 24 of the top 30 overall, all but five of the top 20 cities marked for economic strength are in Asia. Nine - including the top three of Tianjin , Shenzhen and Dalian - are in China.
Leo Abruzzese, the EIU's global forecasting director, said: 'Economic dynamism is definitely rising elsewhere, especially in Asian cities, but US and European cities have legacy advantages that give them a strong competitive edge.'
The combined GDP, in US dollars, of the 120 cities ranked in the EIU survey, meaning they account for about 29 per cent of the world economy