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Singapore Gains Economic Bragging Rights
Lens
post Jun 20 2011, 05:43 PM
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Is it the system or the people or perhaps both?




June 5, 2011

Singapore has quietly notched up one new bragging point in its rivalry with nearby Hong Kong: economic heft.


In the first quarter, Singapore’s gross domestic product pushed past Hong Kong’s when measured in U.S.-dollar terms. A decade ago, Singapore was only 55% of Hong Kong’s size by the same measure, Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted in a recent report.

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Does size matter? Both cities vie for talent and the investment that creates jobs in areas such as banking, tourism, education and logistics. Cities benefit from economies of scale, and talent tends to congregate near other talent, notes Hak Bin Chua, a Merrill economist. In other word’s, Singapore’s growth could prove self-reinforcing.

A city-state of 5.1 million people with no natural hinterland, Singapore makes its own good fortune. It has actively courted immigrants to boost its population, promoted growth in fund management, private banking, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and licensed casino operators to turbocharge its tourism industry.

Hong Kong, by contrast, thrives by milking its connections to China. They are the backbone of Hong Kong’s trading economy and its financial industry, and the reason why the city’s stock exchange has become such a big draw for listings by global companies. Mainland visitors flush with cash are pumping up retail sales and the local property market, a key source of Hong Kong’s tax revenue.

There is reason to take the numbers with a grain of salt. GDP is an imperfect measure, and currency policy is one big reason for Singapore’s better showing. The Singapore dollar has risen over time against the greenback, expanding the size of its GDP in U.S.-dollar terms. Hong Kong, by comparison, effectively uses U.S. dollars, thanks to its currency peg. But the trend is clear: Singapore has grown faster than has Hong Kong.

A big missing element in Hong Kong’s growth equation is people. In 2007, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, who once encouraged couples to have three children, set out a population target of 10 million, to little effect. (It is currently around 7.1 million). Between 2005 and 2010, population growth in Hong Kong averaged 0.75% a year, versus 3.5% in Singapore. By some estimates, a third or more of Singapore’s 6.8% average annual growth from 2003 to 2008 came from expansion of its labor force.

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Bloomberg

The influx of foreign bankers willing to pay top dollar for accommodation has pushed up real-estate prices in Singapore, while imported construction workers keep local blue-collar wages low.

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Hong Kong officials are trying other tactics to bulk up. They have made it a little easier for mainland students who earn degrees in Hong Kong to stay on and seek work. They are also exploring ways to build closer ties with Shenzhen, Hong Kong’s sister city of nine million people north of the mainland border.

Still, both cities face big challenges at their current sizes. The influx of foreign bankers into Singapore who are willing to pay top dollar for accommodation has pushed up real-estate prices, while imported construction workers keep local blue-collar wages low. Frustration over these issues undercut support for the ruling party in recent elections.

In Hong Kong, the wealth gap is a similarly sensitive issue. Locals fear being priced out of their own housing market by their newly rich mainland cousins. The government is spending billions on high-speed rail and airport expansion, but investment in training workers for a high value-added service economy falls rather short.

While Hong Kong’s economic gains would inspire envy in developed Western economies, Singapore’s is impressive enough to inspire envy even in Hong Kong. Both, however, might do better to focus less on quantity of growth, and more on quality.

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This post has been edited by Lens: Jun 20 2011, 05:47 PM
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fireplant
post Jun 20 2011, 05:51 PM
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$???
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Lens
post Jun 20 2011, 07:14 PM
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THe problem is not HK government...the people put preasure on the government to act. They are shooting themselves in the foot with this paranoia.

This post has been edited by Tenjikuronin: Jun 20 2011, 10:46 PM
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Elite4
post Jun 20 2011, 09:20 PM
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Actually, a lot of Mainlanders are welcome in HK, if they bring a certain amount of money (millions) to invest and base their business in HK.

Real is that HK is really bad for poor people, since it's really designed and built to favor big business (billionaires), not poor people. HK isn't really known for being a welfare state, but instead, a rich people's base of business, because of low taxes, high property prices, etc...

Really, if you are poor, both mainland/Indian, there is no real good reason to go to HK. The housing prices are enormous, the welfare in HK is abysmal.

If you are a rich mainlander/Indian, HK will open their arms to you, let you have citizen residency rights, only if you invest a certain sum and park your money in HK.

------------------------

How the heck did Singapore's GDP rise 22%??? =-O

This post has been edited by Elite4: Jun 20 2011, 09:21 PM
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orange peel
post Jun 20 2011, 09:25 PM
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iono i have mixed feelings on Singapore, on one hand they're 70% Chinese on the other hand they frequently sing the opposite tune against the PRC.
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Elite4
post Jun 20 2011, 09:45 PM
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I think it's because Chinese in generally are viewed with disdain in South East Asia for their financial prowess and percieved 'success,' so if Singapore was seen as an agent of PRC (aka Chinese colonial outpost) who acted to implement Beijing's agenda, then tiny Singapore would disappear off the map.

Only when China can afford Singapore comparable protection of what U.S. can provide Singapore can she more flexibility align her "tune" with Beijing.

Get your Shi Lang online, then we can talk, because realpolitk dominates Singapore, and Singapore is the most natural Chinese ally no doubt, but only if Beijing can establish real means of protecting Singapore in the event of retailiation by neighbors who might percieve Singapore to be a Chinese agent, and who are jealous of Singapore's success.
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Suijen
post Jun 20 2011, 09:53 PM
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QUOTE (Elite4 @ Jun 21 2011, 11:45 AM) *
I think it's because Chinese in generally are viewed with disdain in South East Asia for their financial prowess and percieved 'success,' so if Singapore was seen as an agent of PRC (aka Chinese colonial outpost) who acted to implement Beijing's agenda, then tiny Singapore would disappear off the map.

Only when China can afford Singapore comparable protection of what U.S. can provide Singapore can she more flexibility align her "tune" with Beijing.

Get your Shi Lang online, then we can talk, because realpolitk dominates Singapore, and Singapore is the most natural Chinese ally no doubt, but only if Beijing can establish real means of protecting Singapore in the event of retailiation by neighbors who might percieve Singapore to be a Chinese agent, and who are jealous of Singapore's success.


So to protect itself from its neighbors, it participates militarily with every military power except China? I'm quite sure that Singapore would prefer the US to protect it than the PLAN.


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fireplant
post Jun 20 2011, 10:42 PM
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This article forgot to mention something. Singapore spends nearly 6% of its GDP each year on defense. Singapore knows it's in a tough neighborhood, and it makes sure to be tough, smart, and rich.

HK on the other hand, freerides on mainland. thumbsdown.gif

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Elite4
post Jun 23 2011, 01:18 AM
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Yet, Hong Kong is China's largest foreign investor. Sounds like China is freeriding off Hong Kong.



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FistofFury
post Jun 27 2011, 02:30 PM
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QUOTE (Elite4 @ Jun 23 2011, 03:48 AM) *
Yet, Hong Kong is China's largest foreign investor. Sounds like China is freeriding off Hong Kong.


sugar daddy Beijing always comes to the rescue whenever HK is in trouble...

&

Hong Kong, by contrast, thrives by milking its connections to China. They are the backbone of Hong Kong’s trading economy and its financial industry, and the reason why the city’s stock exchange has become such a big draw for listings by global companies. Mainland visitors flush with cash are pumping up retail sales and the local property market, a key source of Hong Kong’s tax revenue.

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lucygreen
post Oct 25 2011, 02:02 AM
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Jounkannofe
post Nov 1 2011, 09:10 AM
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Jounkannofe
post Nov 1 2011, 09:14 AM
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Jounkannofe
post Nov 1 2011, 09:15 AM
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JSokl
post Nov 1 2011, 04:30 PM
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You guys are idiots. Trying to stir trouble between HK-ers and Mainland Chinese. Shame on all of you divisive regionalist pigs.
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