Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 08:29
HK competitiveness slips in national survey
By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong

The lackluster state of the economy and social friction have dragged Hong Kong’s ranking in a nationwide competitiveness survey from second to fifth spot, while another report predicted Shenzhen will overtake the city to become the world’s third-busiest port.

Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shandong provinces are the three most competitive places in China, according to the comprehensive competitiveness ranking of China’s provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions in the “Chinese City Competitiveness Report” compiled by the Hong Kong-based China Institute of City Competitiveness.

While Hong Kong slid, two other world-class Chinese cities fared little better — Shanghai and Beijing held onto the seventh and eighth places respectively. Macao, which earns most of its fortune from casinos, was ranked 13th.

The institute affirmed Hong Kong’s lead as a seaport and in the gold market, but the mainland’s economic boom has narrowed the gap with the city. In terms of growth potential of Chinese cities, Hong Kong was ranked 17th.

The report also blamed public consultations and debates for stalling the city in an endless loop of objections, and decision-making with “no efficiency at all”. The “Occupy Central” campaign, along with the long-standing wealth gap, has created friction in the city that restrains economic growth.

As Hong Kong is not a “political city”, the report urged the city to focus on its economic development and put aside all the political disputes.

The report also recommended the city outline a competitiveness strategy, boost investment in the field of research and development and reinforce its involvement in the mainland’s economic developments.

Shenzhen to pass HK

In a separate report released by the Center for Forecasting Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences last Thursday, Hong Kong is also poised to lose out to Shenzhen as being the world’s third-busiest container port by the end of 2013.

The report predicts Shenzhen’s port will handle 23.3 million containers in 2013, or 2.5 percent more than last year, while Hong Kong’s port, on the contrary, is predicted to handle 3.3 percent less cargo this year.

The alarm was also raised over the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region — ports in Northeast China were expected to boost their shipments by up to 24 percent, while those in the Yangtze River Delta region also expected faster growth than the PRD.

Global rankings of competitiveness often place Hong Kong ahead of the mainland, but also share the view that the city has a lot to work on.

Hong Kong lost its top spot in the latest global competitiveness ranking of the Swiss-based Institute for Management Development (IMD), falling behind the United States and Switzerland. Apart from a worsening perception of the corporate culture and pollution, slow economic growth also contributed to the slip.

The city was ranked ninth in the 2012 World Economic Forum ranking. Its advantages in efficiency, infrastructure and as a financial market were offset by mediocre performance in innovation, healthcare and education.