Hong Kong risks losing competitive edge over Shanghai, think tank says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 3:59am

Hong Kong continues to be China's most competitive city, but its could be replaced by Shanghai in a few years if it does not develop new industries and build on its advantages, a local think tank chief says.

Rankings released yesterday by the China Institute of City Competitiveness put Hong Kong in the top spot for the 11th year on the annual list of Chinese cities by competitiveness, as it has since the research started.

While the city is still ahead of Shanghai and Beijing in integrated competitiveness, its lead over Shanghai has fallen to just 270 points from 1,560 points on the institute's scoring system.

"Our study shows that Shanghai's economic volume in the first half of this year has already exceeded Hong Kong's, but Hong Kong is still No1 because of its established legal and social systems and its [competitive] professional sector," said Gui Qiangfang, founding chairman of the institute.

"But if Hong Kong does not work hard and strengthen its advantages, it is very likely to be overtaken by Shanghai within the next few years," he said.

Gui said the government needed a long-term development strategy and to boost new industries rather than relying only on financial services.

But institute vice-president Dr Raymond Tse Yin-ching cautioned that the government must not intervene too much.

He cited the Hong Kong government's decision in October to impose a 15 per cent stamp duty on home purchases by non-permanent residents and companies to cool the property market.

"I feel that there will be more and more intervention in our free market, as foreign buyers are restricted," Tse said. "It will hinder our competitiveness."

Macau was ranked the safest city in China, while Hong Kong was excluded from this list for the second year in a row after the Lamma Island ferry disaster on October 1 killed 39 people.

The institute drew up 21 separate rankings this year, including the 30 most internationally friendly cities, the 30 most internationalised cities and the top 20 regional hubs. Hong Kong ranked first on those three.