Are these Asian cities ready to take on the established world order?


Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and HCMC could soon be competing with the ‘Big Six’

Credit: Singapore by Nicolas Lannuzel
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A number of Asia-Pacific cities have been identified as possible challengers to the ‘Big Six’ established world cities, which have traditionally been the primary focus of real estate investors, according to a new report by JLL.

The ‘Big Six’ are New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore with the latter two the most business-friendly cities in the world. While JLL expects them to maintain their dominance and investment attraction, they will need to embark on ambitious urban transformation projects to maintain their competitiveness and foster growth.

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The APAC candidates expected to join and compete against the ‘Big Six’ for real estate investment soon are Sydney and Seoul, thanks to their high-growth markets, wide international reach, gateway status and liveability advantages.

“Cities globally are undergoing a metamorphosis in the face of rapid urbanisation, technological disruption and new models of commerce. Cities everywhere are seeking innovative approaches to seize opportunities and tackle challenges to ensure they become and remain sustainable, competitive and liveable,” explained Greg Clark, chairman of the JLL Cities Research Centre.

JLL also pinpointed the top 30 most globalised emerging cities with APAC destinations displaying a clear dominance.

Shanghai and Beijing lead the pack as ‘nearly emerged’ cities, already competing heavily with the ‘Big Six’ for investment attraction, while Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Taipei, Guangzhou, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City are also placed as they close the gap across a range of indices.

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Taipei is emerging as a credible financial centre and is a ‘competitive megacity’ alongside Kuala Lumpur while Shanghai is already one of the world’s top 10 finance hubs, according to Singapore Business Review.

JLL attributes a lack of physical infrastructure to what is holding some of these cities back, highlighting Manila as consistently being near the bottom of the pack globally on transport systems. Despite this, they single out the Philippine capital and Jakarta as improving quicker than their emerging peers due to their respective attractive business environments, describing both capital cities as ‘high potential yet weakly governed’.

“This new economic and technological order offers cities the opportunity for re-invention, for the creation of a new economic and social dynamism, and improved quality of life,” concluded Rosemary Feenan, director of global research programmes at JLL.

“For real estate investors who are assessing and choosing cities to target, the move away from city hierarchies to these new clusters presents an opportunity to more readily identify very real future opportunities.”


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