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December 2016

Helsinki in the winter? It’s for a good cause

Toni Kristian Eliasz's picture
Last month, we returned to Slush, a global start-up conference in Finland. During a dinner discussion, a colleague from Boston Consulting Group mentioned that only a few years ago a C-level executive would have been considered an oddball among the mostly young start-up entrepreneurs. But today, one would need to justify why top management is not paying attention. The conference even chartered a plane full of Silicon Valley investors to join 17,000 other participants in gloomy Helsinki.


Dr. Winnie Tang's picture
在世界经济论坛的《2016-2017 年全球竞争力报告》中,香港竞争力下跌了两位至全球第九,报告指香港面临的最大挑战,是怎样“将这个世界前列的金融中心发展成创新基地”。
有人认为这些忧虑无的放矢,毕竟香港人均 GDP 达 42,000 美元,而且过去 5 年 GDP 增幅可人,每年平均为 3% ,羡煞不少发达经济体。

不过,如果大家深入研究数据,便会发现香港在推动未来经济发展方面危机四伏。 除了金融及保险业外,香港目前GDP增长的动力主要来自所谓”非贸易”(non-tradable)行业——即非高度知识性或创意的行业,例如建筑和公共行政。
根据世界银行最近的硏究《最具竞争力的全球城市 : 就业与经济增长》,一个城市要经济持续发展和职位空缺不断,便需由“可贸易”( tradable )的行业带动,即行业的产品或服务在国际上可以买卖和与人竞争。 可贸易行业的一个共通点,就是要面对激烈的竞争,为了突围而出,大家都投资在研发和开创新知识上,令行业创意不断,精益求精。 对比亚洲和全球的同业,香港在关键的“知识”和“创新”方面都有所不及。
虽然我们都急切希望增强经济实力,但切实的行动却寥寥可数。 要在全球竞争中突围而出,香港究竟何去何从?

How can Hong Kong stay smart and competitive? By driving change through a 'Public-Private-People Partnership' approach

Dr. Winnie Tang's picture

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017,” Hong Kong dropped two notches to rank as No. 9 in its Global Competitiveness Index. The decline occurred mainly because the city faces challenges to “evolve from one of the world’s foremost financial hubs to become an innovative powerhouse.”

One might argue this is an unfounded worry: After all, as a developed economy with a GDP per capita of US $42,000, Hong Kong has recorded an impressive GDP growth rate, over the last five years, of about 3 percent annually. This growth rate is higher than many developed economy.

However, if we look at the economic figures more closely, some worrisome early warning signs are already emerging – especially in terms of the factors that will drive Hong Kong’s future economic growth.

Apart from finance and insurance, the majority of Hong Kong’s GDP growth nowadays is contributed by “non-tradable” sectors that have less knowledge and innovation content, such as the construction and public-administration sectors.

According to the World Bank’s latest research on “Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth,” long-term economic success and job growth in cities are usually driven by “tradable” sectors – economic sectors whose output could be traded and competed internationally. Firms in tradable sectors are exposed to fierce competition which, in turn, exerts pressure on them to invest in research and knowledge-intensive sectors so that they become more productive and innovative in order to remain competitive internationally. Hong Kong is now lagging behind its Asian and world peers in the critical features of knowledge and innovation.

Although the urgency to act to increase the knowledge-driven content of the economy is obvious, there seems to be a limited number of actions taking place here on the ground in Hong Kong.  How can Hong Kong forge ahead and start making changes?

Staying competitive in today’s global economy is like sailing against the current: Either you keep forging ahead, or you will fall behind.

The World Bank’s Smart Cities Conference – held in Yokohama, Japan last month – presented some good examples from around the world on how to use a bottom-up approach with active citizen engagement to increase the chance of success in implementing changes. The audience was interested in learning about the successful transformation of Yokohama through the cities many initiatives, such as the development of the Minato Mirai 21 central business district.

More bank competition in Gulf countries could be a boon for small businesses

Pietro Calice's picture

Against the backdrop of low oil and gas prices and fiscal consolidation, economic diversification and private sector development is a top policy priority for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is central to this agenda.
Formal SMEs in GCC countries account for 25% of jobs, which is significantly below the global average where SMEs account for 40% of employment.

Inadequate access to finance, especially bank lending, is constraining SMEs in GCC countries. Only 11% of SMEs have access to credit and some 40% of SMEs cite a lack of financial access as a major constraint.

Bank competition in the GCC is among the lowest in the world. Strict entry requirements, restrictions on bank activities, relatively weak credit information systems, and a lack of competition from foreign banks and nonbank financial institutions all contribute to weak competition in the banking sector.
By conducting fieldwork and reviewing available literature, we have analyzed what rules and regulations may be impeding bank competition in the GCC SME lending markets as well as the institutional framework for competition policy underpinning those rules and regulations.