Singapore tops global city rankings again

For the fourth year in a row, Singapore has held on to the top spot in fDi Intelligence’s 'Global Cities of the Future' rankings.

London has retained its second place and Dubai has come in third in rankings that measure cities' potential for inward investment, economic development and business expansion.The annual rankings from fDi - a division of the Financial Times group - assess economic potential, cost effectiveness, connectivity, human capital and lifestyle, business friendliness and foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy.After what fDi says "has been a particularly challenging period for the global economy and foreign direct investment as a whole" because of the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore kept its No. 1 rating despite experiencing much slower growth in inward FDI compared to London and Dubai.But the latest edition of fDi Magazine, which published the rankings, said Singapore still managed to retain its excellence across the board."Singapore has triumphed in both the economic potential and business friendliness categories," said the report."With low tax rates and generous research grants, Singapore has long positioned itself as one of the world’s most innovative cities, having also ranked in the top 30 cities for innovation in Knight and Frank’s recent global innovation report. Singapore recorded the most FDI in research and development between 2015 and 2020 at $210 million, surpassing other cities by a significant margin."The report added that the city-state is showing all the signs of pursuing a path to post-pandemic economic recovery based on increasing digitalisation and on driving forward the green economy.Meanwhile, London was adjudged to have held on to second place largely because of  inward FDI investment amounting to $2.6 billion between 2015-2020. The city also fared well in the human capital and lifestyle category."The UK capital benefits from multiple world-class universities, in addition to being part of the 'Golden Triangle’ with Cambridge and Oxford," said the report."It was also a record year for venture capital funding into the city, with reporting that London tech companies raised more than $10.5 billion in 2020, more than any other European city."However, although London was commended on plans for a post-pandemic recovery centred on green finance and fintech, the report warned that a question mark hovered over the future of the city's financial services after they were omitted from the Brexit trade deal with the EU.Dubai, which has been progressively moving up the rankings over the past three years, achieved third place this year after achieving its goal of becoming a pivotal hub in the global economy."Dubai’s favourable tax rates, free zones and well-educated workforce have proven highly attractive to many businesses," said the report."Matching both Singapore and London, Dubai has indicated a desire to move its economy to a more environmentally sustainable model. In green developments, Dubai’s clean energy strategy aims to generate 75 per cent of its energy from clean sources by 2050."Looking forward, the report said the global rollout of vaccination programmes represented a real cause for optimism.But it added: "Unfortunately for cities dependent on tourism, it is estimated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization that it could take until 2023 for the travel sector to have anything comparable to the volume of travel pre-pandemic."The rise of home-working has also offered a new incentive opportunity for locations. Countries such as Barbados and Bermuda are offering one-year resident programmes, hoping to attract the new generation of digital nomads."Locations across the globe certainly seem to be focusing their economic recovery efforts towards more digital and technology focused sectors, with a particular emphasis on environmental sustainability."'Global Cities of the Future' rankings top 20:1. Singapore
2. London
3. Dubai
4. Amsterdam
5. Dublin
6. Hong Kong
7. New York
8. Shanghai
9. Paris
10. Tokyo
11. Beijing
12. Abu Dhabi
13. Bangalore
14. Munich
15. Wroclaw
16. Zurich
17. Toronto
18. Seoul
19. Houston
20. Warsaw

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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