Singapore is world's 2nd best business hub after London: PwC

Singapore's tropical weather may leave a lot to be desired but there is no place in the world like it if you need to operate a business.

Consultancy PwC placed Singapore second overall in a ranking of 30 global cities - up one notch from the last ranking in 2014.

The ranking, outlined in its Cities of Opportunity report released yesterday, is based on economic and social indicators such as technological readiness, ease of doing business, and demographics and liveability.

London was in first place, while Toronto was third, Paris fourth and Amsterdam fifth.

Singapore ranks a dismal 27th in thermal comfort, which PwC attributed to the "harsh climate". However, its strength in other areas lifted its overall performance.

"In addition to ranking No. 1 in three indicators - technology readiness, transportation and infrastructure and the ease of doing business - the city performs well in the area of tax," PwC noted in its report.

Mr Mark Rathbone, PwC's Asia-Pacific capital projects and infrastructure leader, noted that although Singapore's public transport system has come under fire recently for train breakdowns, it is still much better than others around the world.

"London's underground system, for example, encounters extensive delays, frequent breakdowns and overcrowding," he said.

The changes that the Singapore Government is making to the way it manages the bus and rail systems should also lead to better service, Mr Rathbone added.

Singapore also tops the charts when it comes to technological readiness, jumping seven places this year to replace London at the top of the tech rankings.

This is due to factors such as high mobile broadband speeds and widespread Internet access in schools.

There is room for improvement in other areas, though. The Republic has fallen four places since 2014 in sustainability and the natural environment, to finish in 20th place this year, with "middling results" in air quality and recycled waste.

Ultimately, PwC said its study showed that balance works best in today's complex urban ecosystems.

"Education, transit, health, economics and governance all have to line up for a city to lead. London proves this again as its balanced strengths create distance from advanced cities like New York, Paris, Toronto and Singapore," it said.

Businesses depend on city well- being and governments on healthy economies for shared success.

"They need to work together actively to help shape operating environments in a world where a continued urban renaissance is not guaranteed."

Singapore still 'most business-friendly economy'

  • Singapore has been crowned the most business-friendly economy in the world for the ninth year in a row.
  • According to the league table compiled by the World Bank, Singapore's regulatory environment is highly beneficial for entrepreneurs.
  • The rest of the top 10 comprised Hong Kong in third place, followed by Denmark, South Korea, Norway, the United States, Britain, Finland and Australia.
  • Entrepreneurs in Singapore need an average of 2½ days to set up a company, while in Eritrea - the economy that placed lowest in the ranking - investors usually need about 84 days, according to the report.
  • While the accolade "suggests that Singapore will keep its competitive edge, the country will need to brace itself for slower growth next year, being one of the most open and trade- oriented economies" -IG market strategist Ryan Huang.
  • Although Singapore stayed in pole position, it slipped slightly in terms of its score from last year, while the other top five economies saw improvements to their scoring, noted OCBC economist Selena Ling.

This article was first published on September 7, 2016.
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