May 24, 2016

Six of the top ten most featured cities within city benchmarking indices are in Asia Pacific and they are also the region’s top commercial real estate investment destinations.

The top six – Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney – are the most commonly featured Asia Pacific cities based on 100 key indices that benchmark cities on indicators ranging from sustainability to business infrastructure. The findings were revealed in the report “Benchmarking the Future World of Cities,” which was written in partnership with intelligence and strategy firm The Business of Cities.

The six cities combined attracted US$57 billion of commercial real estate investment over the past year, based on JLL data. This represents nearly half of total investment in the Asia Pacific region, a fairly consistent proportion over the past five years.

“Asia Pacific cities such as Shanghai and Beijing have made significant progress in recent years and are well on their way to becoming true “Established World Cities” or cities that combine scale of business and investment activity with quality, appeal and cultural depth,” says Jeremy Kelly, Director, JLL Global Research.

“Singapore and Hong Kong frequently top the rankings of indices that benchmark global connectivity and transport infrastructure, while Sydney is the one of the world’s most liveable cities.”

Other emerging cities

The indices also revealed the strength of emerging Asia Pacific cities beyond these six, notably Seoul, Melbourne, Auckland, Bangkok, Bangalore and Shenzhen, according to the report findings.

Seoul, for instance, is rising rapidly in the rankings. The South Korean capital has improved eight places since 2010 in Mori’s Global Power City Index, supported by its network of internationalising firms, strong human capital and shift to quality-oriented growth, says the report. Seoul is catching up steadily with Tokyo as East Asia’s most advanced city economy, according to the report.

“Asia Pacific cities are increasingly competing with their global counterparts for investment, talent and business and in the new era of global competition, a new ‘science’ of cities is emerging – with an increasing number of indices and benchmarks helping identify where cities sit on the world stage,” says Kelly. However these indices need careful interpretation to distil the different implications for investors, residents and workers.”

As the region becomes a driver of global growth, new indices are emerging from Asia Pacific. For instance, Tokyo-based Mori Memorial Foundation’s ‘Global Power City Index’ is among one of the most comprehensive and well-respected global rankings, and Singapore’s ‘Global Liveable Cities Index’ is a recent entrant to the competitive field of quality of life indices. Meanwhile, other major indices – such as the Global Urban Competitiveness Project and the Academic Ranking of World Universities – are being developed in China.

The power of brand

‘While Asia Pacific cities dominate the rankings currently, there is still room for improvement,” says Kelly. “Asian cities generally lack the strong, positive global branding associated with many Western cities.”

Global surveys, reviews and social media confirm that London, Paris and New York have stronger global brands and reputations than their Asian counterparts, although megacities such as Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul are starting to edge up the table, says the report.

“By creating strategies to alter international perceptions, Asian cities can improve their positioning on the world stage,” says Kelly. Creating new rankings, which could remove the Western bias evident in a number of indices, and providing indices creators with better data could also benefit Asia Pacific cities. Future rankings on the fields as diverse as city governance, housing and equality will provide more insight into the global position of Asia Pacific cities.”

Most commonly featured cities: top 10*

City No of Indices
Paris 90
London 88
New York 82
Tokyo 79
Sydney 74
Shanghai 72
Hong Kong 71
Singapore 70
Toronto 67
Beijing 66

*Appearances in 100 main indices
Source: The Business of Cities 2016.

Click here to download the full Benchmarking the Future World of Cities report

Jeremy Kelly
Director, JLL Global Research


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