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Thursday, September 29, 2016, 00:31

HK slips in annual competitiveness index

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Hong Kong slipped two spots to No 9 in the annual World Competitiveness Index, trailing two regional competitors - Japan and Singapore, according to the World Economic Forum.

The city’s science and technology experts said Hong Kong had the potential to grow into an innovation powerhouse as the forum highlighted “lack of innovation” as a major challenge for the city.

According to the index, Hong Kong still excelled in infrastructure, ranking first for the seventh time in the history of the index, which indicates it still has a world-leading transport and investment environment.

And among all the 138 countries or regions assessed, the city also secured a leading position in market efficiency, ranked as the world’s No 2. In terms of financial market development it ranked 4th globally, according to the index.

However, the city’s slow pace in “evolving from one of the world’s foremost financial hubs to an innovative powerhouse” dragged down its ranking. Hong Kong was only listed 27th in terms of innovation, according to the index.

“The business community also cited the capacity to innovate as its ‘biggest concern’," the organization said.

Singapore ranked second in the global index for the sixth consecutive year, the highest in the Asia-Pacific region, with Switzerland leading the list. The “Lion City” ranked ninth in terms of innovation.

Japan ranked No 8 as the world's most innovative place, the highest among Asian countries. The Chinese mainland ranked 30th in the innovation list, moving up one spot, and Taiwan was listed No 11. The mainland ranked 28th and Taiwan stood at the 14th position in the overall ranking.

Hong Kong's experts urged the government to speed up Hong Kong's development. Tao Xiaoming, chair professor of textile technology in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, sees a rising trend in this area. This is because the government has updated its vision in regard to innovation.

She appealed to both the government and society to provide more support to high-tech startups in the city. Tao said such support would encourage more young people to go into science and technology, injecting vitality to the field.

Xu Yangsheng, president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), hoped the government can learn from neighboring competitors like Shenzhen and Singapore for a comprehensive strategy.

The robotics expert, however, voiced concern about insufficient people with the relevant expertise in the city. Xu urged the government to make more effort in attracting or producing more skilled people.

He was supported by Tsang Kim-fung, chairman of the Internet of Things Committee of Smart City Consortium. Tsang advised the government to launch more extensive training for young people to help turn Hong Kong into a smart city.

Responding to the latest ranking, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Ceajer Chan Ka-keung said that Hong Kong is still a very competitive city for business and investment. He attributed the SAR’s slip in the rankings to current global economic problems.

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