HK among top places for doing business
Hong Kong has moved up two places to become Asia's third-most competitive economy, with its three 'tiger' cousins also ranking in the top five, according to an annual report released by the Boao Forum.
However, the internal and external environment will affect the competitiveness of the region's economies in the future, the forum's 'Asian Competitiveness' annual report for 2012 says.
Separately, Hong Kong ranked as the best place to do business based on data compiled by news agency Bloomberg. The city's free-market policies and low corporate taxes as well as its position as the gateway to the world's most populous nation were cited as chief reasons behind its top ranking.
The Boao Forum's top five are, in order, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea; mainland China came in at No 10, up from 11th last year, among the 37 economies evaluated. Hong Kong was ranked fifth last year.
'Hong Kong has become a competitive economy relying on the Chinese mainland as its economic hinterland,' the report said.
The city leads in three aspects of competitiveness: first-class infrastructure, robust overall economic strength and high commercial and administrative efficiency.
'All these advantages contributed to Hong Kong's third ranking in the competitiveness,' it said.
However, it said Hong Kong lagged far behind its Asian cousins in human capital investment and innovative product research.
'Compared with Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, the enrolment rate of higher education is lower and government investment in education is less, which may influence its innovation output,' it said.
The city secured top position in a new Bloomberg index based on six criteria including the degree of economic integration and labour costs. The Netherlands, United States, Britain and Australia occupied the next four slots. The ranking marks a victory for Hong Kong, 15 years after the city's return to Chinese sovereignty stoked concern that its role as an international financial hub would fade.
Meanwhile, despite rising competitiveness, the Boao Forum warned in the report that emerging economies faced many uncertainties this year. It said continued doldrums in developed economies would affect the sustainable and stable growth of emerging economies.
The report warned that some emerging economies would be hit both by high unemployment and high consumer inflation rates.
'The need to strike a balance between job creation and growth and inflation management makes it more difficult for those economies to adjust their macroeconomic policies,' it said.
The report also warned that more trade friction and unstable financial markets would add uncertainty to the development of Asia's emerging economies, as well as those in other countries such as Brazil and South Africa. It forecast China will post robust growth of 8.8 per cent in gross domestic product this year - much higher than the central government's 7.5 per cent projection.
The report also said that while the possibility of an economic hard landing for China - the world's second-largest economy and biggest single contributor to global economic expansion - is slim, the scenario 'cannot be ruled out' for other emerging economies.
The Boao Forum is Asia's version of the Davos World Economic Forum and brings together international CEOs, financiers and academics to discuss socio-economic issues.
This year's theme is 'Asia in the changing world - heading for healthy and sustainable development'. This year the forum will be held from April 1 to 3.
3. Hong Kong
5. South Korea
7. New Zealand