ASIA: Hong Kong holds on to fourth spot in global financial centre rankings, while Singapore remains one place higher.

As published on scmp.com, Thursday 23 March, 2023.

Hong Kong held on to its fourth-place ranking globally in the latest study of the world’s leading international financial centres, as the city’s economy continues to recover from three years of Covid-19 restrictions.

The city ranked fourth in the 33rd edition of the semi-annual Global Financial Centres Index, produced by the China Development Institute in Shenzhen and the London think tank Z/Yen Partners. New York was No 1 financial centre, followed by London and Singapore.

Financial industry executives based in Hong Kong were more confident about the future competitiveness of the city as an international financial centre than executives from other cities, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said

“In view of the intense international competition, the government has adopted a more vigorous and proactive development approach to press ahead with institutional enhancements and policy innovations as well as boosting promotion and publicity on Hong Kong’s full return to normalcy, so as to consolidate our strengths and continuously enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The latest ranking came six months after Singapore surpassed Hong Kong as the third leading financial centre globally in September.

“Confidence in financial centres and the world economy remains high, with a recognition that inflation levels are falling and economic growth generally secure, even with the instability caused by the continuing war in Ukraine,” the report’s authors said.

The ranking, released twice a year, in March and September, is based on a global online survey of 10,252 financial professionals, who evaluated 120 cities on 153 factors in five broad areas of competitiveness, including business environment, human capital and reputation.

On March 1, Hong Kong lifted a requirement that people wear face masks indoors and outdoors, as well as on public transit, ending one of the last major restrictions enacted during the coronavirus pandemic after nearly three years.

The city’s economy has struggled in recent years as restrictive quarantine requirements and other measures to control the spread of Covid-19 have discouraged travel to the city. Quarantine-free travel resumed late last year.

Hong Kong’s economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 3.5 per cent in 2022, the third time in the past four years. The government has forecast the economy will grow by 3.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent this year.

The after-effects of years of zero-Covid policies also weighed on the rankings for several top Chinese cities in the latest global financial centres survey.

Shanghai fell one place to seventh in the study and Shenzhen slipped from ninth to 12th. Beijing dropped five spots to 13th.

China’s economy showed a mild, but mixed recovery to begin the year, with retail sales increasing by a better-than-expected 3.5 per cent and industrial production increasing by 2.4 per cent in January and February.

Beijing has set a growth target of around 5 per cent this year for the world’s second-biggest economy.

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