Want to attract investment? What you can learn from Asia's top 2 cities

Fri, 2015-12-18 06:50 -- Kevin Ebi

This year’s fDi ranking of Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future shows the impact consistency and deliberate change — two dramatically different strategies that are paying off big time for cities in the region.

Singapore once again held the top spot in the Financial Times ranking — the third year in a row that it has held that position. But Tokyo offers an equally impressive story: It leapt from ninth to second on the list in a single year.

What both cities are doing offers some inspirational guidance for others that want to give their economic development a boost.

Tokyo’s dramatic leap
Tokyo’s big boost is largely the result of its investments in information technology. Council Lead Partner Cisco established an innovation lab in the city last year. Innovation labs and zones have strong track records of boosting business investment and are becoming a key strategy worldwide.

Tokyo has a highly-educated workforce: more than 9 out of 10 are online, the highest rate in the world. It’s made sizeable investments in the speed of its internet backbone, leading the world in connectivity. And it’s easily accessible with two international airports and six ports.

How much does that matter? Business investment is up in Tokyo while it’s down virtually everywhere else. DHL Express is just one story. That logistics company is relocating and expanding a new gateway in Tokyo, which will come online next year.

How Singapore keeps its lead
Singapore continues to succeed because it’s building on an already strong foundation. Essentially, what other cities are doing now, Singapore has already done. Until recently, it was the only Asian city to place in the top 10 of the World Economic Forums Global Information Technology report.

Starting from a strong position gives it an incredible advantage. Over the past 12 years, fDi says more than 7% of all inward investment in the Asia-Pacific region has gone to Singapore.

But with Tokyo now at its heels and showing other cities how rapidly they can improve, it can’t afford to sit back and wait for others to catch up.

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