Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

July 24, 2008

Let expat schools expand into vacant properties

Filed under: Education,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:11 am

I REFER to Monday’s article, ‘Expat schools make room for growing population’.

I suggest the affected schools use existing vacant schools as a temporary measure. One such school is the former Westlake Secondary School in Braddell Hill. It looks in relatively good condition with several buildings to house classes, lots of space and a reasonably good field. I am sure with a little creativity and resourcefulness, the school could be turned into a functional school.It is such a waste to see buildings like this. I am sure there are many other such schools in other parts of Singapore, not used efficiently and left to decay in land-scarce Singapore.

Source : Straits Times – 11 Jun 2008


Road Ahead for HDB: Meeting diverse needs of S’pore’s population

Filed under: General,HBD Reviews — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:08 am

THE road ahead for the Housing Board (HDB) is to meet the housing needs of a growing population with increasingly different needs and aspirations, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Tuesday.

HDB will also have to make the flats attractive for the more educated and more well-off Singaporeans, so that they too can go through the HDB experience. — ST PHOTO: ALBERT SIM

As Singapore welcomes a larger and more diverse population into its fold, he said the challenge for HDB is to find innovative ways to accommodate everyone in a comfortable way, without compromising our living environment and social cohesion.

‘Globalisation and the changing economic environment have also led to such issues as structural unemployment and a widening income gap. We will need to ensure that public housing can help achieve the twin objectives of meeting the housing needs of the majority of the population, as well as providing a social safety net for lower income Singaporeans,’ said Mr Mah during his visit to the HDB Hub on Tuesday morning to celebrate the UN public service award won by the Board for its home ownership programme.

As Singapore’s population ages, the minister said the HDB will need to focus on meeting the housing needs of the more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and the lower-income, so that they can level up with the rest of the population.

At the other end of the spectrum, it will also have to make HDB flats attractive for the more educated and more well-off Singaporeans, so that they too can go through the HDB experience.

‘This shared experience of HDB living will become all the more important, as we strive to develop a collective Singapore identity,’ said the minister.

Mr Mah referred to a recent marriage and parenthood survey by the Ministry of Community Development, Youths and Sports, which revealed that the purchase of an HDB flat is a rite of passage for most Singaporeans.

It showed that 89 per cent of singles preferred to live in their own homes after marriage. For most, this would mean setting up their first home in a new or resale HDB flat.

‘The challenges for public housing today are different, but no less formidable than what we faced in the early days. Today’s environment is far more complex, with a more diverse group of flat buyers that have varying aspirations and income levels,’ added the minister. ‘In response, HDB builds flats to suit different budgets and preferences, with a range of flat types, designs, and locations to choose from.’

Upgrading aging flats in old estates

He also identified the upgrading and rejuvenation of older housing estates as another key challenge for the HDB.

With nearly a-third of the flats built before the 1980s, there will be more flats reaching 40 to 50 years old within the next 10 years.

Mr Mah said new, middle-aged and old HDB estates will be transformed into vibrant homes for Singaporeans under the HDB’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’ programme.

‘Giving our HDB heartlands a major makeover is a key part of the Government’s plan to develop and reshape the Singapore of tomorrow. In the next 10 to 20 years, HDB will be embarking on plans to build a new generation of public housing,’ he said.

‘The urban regeneration of HDB estates will go beyond the current upgrading programmes in terms of scale and scope. It will transform the existing public housing estates and mark a new milestone in Singapore’s public housing programme.’

Source : Straits Times – 10 Jun 2008

HDB launches 382 BTO flats for sale at Marsiling

Filed under: General,HBD Reviews — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:04 am

THE Housing Board offered 382 flats for sale at Marsiling under the Build-To-Order (BTO) scheme on Tuesday.

The flats at Straits Vista @ Marsiling, near Woodlands Regional Centre, comprise 50 three-room and 332 four-room units.

Residents can also enjoy easy access to other amenities such as shops, parks, schools and a sports/swimming complex. — PHOTO: HDB

The three-room flats, with floor area of between 67 and 69 sq metres, are priced from $116,000 to $164,000, while the four-room units, with floor area of 93 to 95 sqm, will be sold at between $184,000 and $257,000.

They are expected to be ready by May 2012.

The HDB said the Marsiling flats are part of the 8,400 units planned for this year under the BTO scheme and are the first HDB project in Woodlands town in recent years.

‘It will help to meet the strong demand for flats in the northern part of Singapore, although the bulk of the new BTO flats will continue to be offered in Punggol and Sengkang,’ said the board in a statement on Tuesday.

The project is well served by Woodlands MRT Station and a bus interchange. Residents can also enjoy easy access to other amenities such as shops, parks, schools and a sports/swimming complex. It is just a 5-minute drive to the Bukit Timah and Seletar Expressways.

As BTO flats typically require a few years to complete, the HDB advises buyers to plan ahead for their housing needs.

Applications for the new flats can be submitted from June 10 to 23.

Wide range of affordable resale flats available

Buyers with more immediate housing needs can get a resale HDB flat, with eligible first-timers given a CPF housing grant of $30,000 to $40,000, as well as the additional CPF grant of up to $30,000.

The HDB says there is still a wide range of affordable resale flats available to meet the budget of most flat buyers.

Its records show that in the first quarter, 14 per cent of the resale transactions were conducted at or below market valuation.

Source : Straits Times – 10 Jun 2008

Developers to unveil more modestly-priced condos

Filed under: Developer News,General,Property Investment — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:58 am

Dakota slated for preview this month at under $1,000 psf average, lower than earlier indicated

Developers are getting ready to release mass- to mid-market condos, encouraged by the response to modestly-priced developments recently.

City Developments Ltd (CDL) previewed Shelford Suites about a week ago at an average price believed to be around $1,550 psf, although CDL’s spokeswoman said the average price for the five-storey freehold project in the Shelford/Adam roads vicinity is in the $1,500 to $1,700 psf range.

Testing the market: CDL previewed Shelford Suites about a week ago at $1,500-$1,700 psf. The group is also aiming to preview the first phase of Livia, a condo in Pasir Ris, by month’s end or early July.

The property giant is also aiming to preview by the end of this month or early July the first phase of Livia, a 724-unit condo at Pasir Ris Drive 1.

The 99-year leasehold condo, near Pasir Ris MRT Station, is being developed by a joint venture involving CDL, Hong Realty and Hong Leong Holdings.

‘The average price will be revealed closer to the preview,’ CDL’s spokeswoman said.

However, market expectation is that CDL will price the project attractively, at below $700 psf for the initial phase.

Those taken in by the charms of riverfront-living close to the city can look forward to Ho Bee’s and NTUC Choice Homes’ preview of The Dakota later this month.

The average price of the 99-year leasehold condo is expected to be ‘under $1,000 psf’, BT understands. This is lower than than the $1,000-1,100 psf average price expectation Ho Bee had indicated in June last year when the developers emerged as the top bidder for the plot at a state tender.

The 348-unit project is expected to be 20 storeys high and will front Geylang River. It will also be close to Dakota MRT Station, which opens on the Circle Line next year. The Dakota will comprise six blocks with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, and penthouses.

Over in Pasir Ris, CDL’s spokeswoman said that the company is in ‘in the final stage’ of preparing a phased soft launch of Livia. The condo is targeted at the mass market and will comprise several blocks of 15 to 16 storeys with two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, and penthouses.

Elsewhere on the island, freehold projects with tiny studio units dubbed ’shoebox apartments’ (ranging from under 400 sq ft to about 500 sq ft in size) in places like Sophia Road and Race Course Road, have been selling fairly quickly at around $1,100 to $1,400 psf in the past couple of months.

Over in the Botanic Gardens vicinity, UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corporation will officially launch today Nassim Park Residences condo.

Nearly 50 units have been sold at an average $3,000-3,200 psf since the preview began the week of Vesak Day, although this is expected to go up slightly from today.

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

No more cheap mortgages as banks raise rates

Filed under: Financing,General — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:51 am

Hike of up to 1 percentage point for some fixed rate packages to 3.98%

THE days when you could lock in cheap mortgage rates or the first year or two seem to be over, now that banks have quietly jacked up rates for new fixed-rate loans.

Just five months ago, banks were dangling teaser rates on the first year of their fixed-rate home loan packages. Maybank had a package that offered 1.68 per cent, while United Overseas Bank’s (UOB’s) FirstZero product carried zero per cent.

But now, homebuyers would be hard-pressed to find rates fixed on the first year of a mortgage at below 2.68 per cent, as some banks had already raised the rates of certain packages by up to 1 percentage point in recent weeks to as high as 3.98 per cent.

UOB and OCBC Bank have raised rates for their three-year, fixed-rate mortgages to 3.68 per cent from 2.98 per cent. Standard Chartered Bank has raised its rate for its two-year, fixed-rate package to 3.78 per cent a year from about 2.68 per cent.

This means new home buyers will have to grapple with much higher costs of borrowing, if they want the certainty of locking in their interest rates for the next few years.

A new customer will fork out about $3,500 more in interest for the first year on a loan of about $500,000, if the rate has been raised by 0.7 percentage point.

Banks may have turned cautious and are raising mortgage rates amid a slowing property market and an uncertain economic outlook.

They are facing ‘increased credit risks on housing loans’, suggested Mr Dennis Ng of mortgage consultancy portal

The higher fixed rates may prompt more buyers of new homes to take up loans linked to transparent rates that they can easily monitor. These include the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor) – the rate at which banks lend to each other – and the swap offered rate (SOR), which is Sibor plus a bank’s lending costs.

Existing holders of home loans, whose fixed or variable rates are up for renewal in the coming months, may also find floating rates more attractive, as the difference between fixed rates and those linked to Sibor or SOR widens.

Customers with loans linked to the 12-month Sibor, which is hovering at about 1.7375 per cent, are still enjoying rates as low as 2.4 per cent that is fixed for a year – a difference of 1.3 of a percentage point compared to some newly-hiked, fixed-rate packages.

Some banks, however, have also started to raise rates linked to Sibor and the three-month SOR, currently at 1.4307 per cent. Some banks have raised their SOR-linked packages by 0.1 of a percentage point, or more, to as much as SOR plus 1 per cent.

DBS Bank has not changed its rates – yet. Market sources say the bank is preparing to introduce new – and higher – rates for both its fixed-rate and Sibor-linked packages in a few weeks.

Still, the banks’ rate increases may raise eyebrows since the Sibor and United States Federal Reserve rates appear unlikely to climb sharply in the coming months.

Market talk that the Fed might soon raise interest rates to curb inflation was quashed last week, with an unexpectedly sharp surge in the US unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent last month.

One banker, who declined to be named, said the Singapore banking industry’s motives for raising fixed rates this time, however, might ‘have less to do with current Fed rates than expectations that Sibor is close to bottoming out’. Thus, market players may now be raising rates to squeeze higher margins from new loans.

A banking analyst said banks had enjoyed a roaring mortgage business in the past year, and some had already hit most of their 2008 targets.

‘So, they may now be focusing on credit quality and growing their margins for any new loans,’ he said.

The question on the minds of home owners is whether this fixed-rate mortgage hike is an ominous signal of an eventual rate hike for all other packages. This may cool the already lukewarm property market further.

Bankers, however, kept mum about their pricing strategy, pointing out instead that the current mortgage rates were still at historical lows.


Banks are raising mortgage rates amid a slowing property market and an uncertain economic outlook. They are facing ‘increased credit risks on housing loans’, suggests Mr Dennis Ng of mortgage consultancy

Source : Straits Times – 10 Jun 2008

Good investment deals in Thai market

Filed under: General,Property Investment,Thailand — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:50 am

THAILAND offers some of Asia’s best real estate investments. High-quality contemporary properties in prime locations continue to drive prices and build the country’s position regionally, but players say government barriers for overseas buyers are crimping growth.

Royal Phuket Marina: The resort towns of Phuket and Pattaya are the most popular locations outside Bangkok for foreign investors. Thais show less interest buying there

Bangkok’s luxury condominium market achieved record prices six months ago when a penthouse suite at The Sukhothai Residences sold for 408 million baht (S$17 million) or 342,000 baht per square metre (psm). But while more than double the average cost of luxury accommodation in Bangkok, this was about half the cost of a similar apartment in Singapore or Hong Kong, where prices range from 655,000 to 667,000 baht psm, according to Jones Lang Lasalle.

The research also shows Bangkok properties generate more profit. Average rental yields are 4.8 to 5.1 per cent of the initial purchase price per year, compared with 3.1 per cent in Hong Kong and 2.7 per cent in Singapore.

More than 10,600 units will be completed in downtown Bangkok this year, of which 34 per cent will be high end, says CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

Investing in quality properties close to Bangkok’s underground and skytrain routes is the safest bet, says Songkran Issara, managing director of Charn Issara property developers.

‘There is strong demand if a project is in the right location and of the right quality,’ says Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of CBRE (Thailand). ‘People are prepared to pay a high price for such products.’

She says Thai buyers at the top end of the market will typically pay up to 150,000 baht psm. And they will pay even more for top-end projects like The Sukhothai Residences, where 30 per cent of buyers are paying an average of 200,000 baht psm.

Developer Raimon Land says sales at The River, an 842-unit twin-tower development being built on the banks of Bangkok’s Chaopraya River, demonstrate Thailand’s investment potential. Prices there have risen from 145,000 to 250,000 baht psm since the sales launch in March 2007.

And some players reckon there is plenty of upside yet. ‘The market is still undervalued and I expect significant growth over the next five years, especially at the high end,’ says Darren White, president of real estate consultancy Binswanger (Thailand). ‘Prices would rise again if young expats living here were able to borrow locally.’

Thai law prevents foreigners owning land, but non-Thais can buy 49 per cent of available freehold space in any condominium. Leases are a maximum 30 years, compared to a minimum 99 years in Singapore and other regional markets.

Bank of Thailand guidance advises financial institutions against loaning money to foreigners wanting to buy property locally. ‘We’d like the government to drop restrictions on foreign ownership of condominiums,’ says Raimon Land chief executive Nigel Cornick. ‘Failing that, then a percentage increase or zones where there could be 100 per cent foreign ownership.’

The resort towns of Phuket and Pattaya are the most popular locations outside Bangkok for foreign investors, with Thais showing less interest in buying there. Mr Cornick says Raimon’s Northpoint beachfront development in Pattaya has already hit the 49 per cent quota after its launch last November. ‘If 100 per cent could be owned by overseas investors, we would have sold the whole project by now,’ he said.

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Viet market seen hurting S’pore firms

Filed under: Developer News,General,Vietnam — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:46 am

Analysts say they may end up with unsold homes given slowing sales of late

SINGAPORE developers in Vietnam are likely to be affected by a cooling residential property market and tighter government regulations, research houses say.

Keppel Land, CapitaLand, Guocoland, Fraser & Neave, Allgreen and Chip Eng Seng are six developers with residential projects in Vietnam, said BNP Paribas, and Keppel Land has the largest exposure with about US$7 billion of project value.

Safe as houses? Keppel Land’s new Dong Nai township project; the company has the largest exposure, about US$7 billion of project value, among Singapore players

While margins may exceed 30 per cent, development risks are high as well.

‘Sales have slowed down in the past few months. Selling prices have also become more realistic and some speculators are leaving their deposits forfeited,’ BNP Paribas said in a report.

According to BNP Paribas, the first phase of Keppel Land’s The Estella fetched an average selling price of about US$2,200 per square metre (psm) early this year. This is around 30 per cent lower than the highest price of US$3,200 psm at end-2007 by CapitaLand’s The Vista, which is across the road.

In the same vein, Morgan Stanley said last week that developers may end up with unsold inventory, should speculators forgo their options to purchase units.

‘While developers have been announcing strong buying interest for their projects for some time, most buyers have only paid the respective deposits for registered papers – that is, the options to purchase units,’ Morgan Stanley said in a report. At The Estella, for instance, sale-and-purchase agreements have been signed for only 200 of the 650 units launched.

Morgan Stanley also projected a 38 per cent devaluation of the Vietnamese dong against the US dollar from current spot levels over the next 12 months. A weaker dong would make residential property less affordable, since rents and prices are pegged to the US dollar.

Morgan Stanley said that it foresees developers delaying launches amid poor sentiment. And it is bearish on prospects for Keppel Land – ‘the most vulnerable, with NAV (net asset value) potentially declining by seven cents a share to $7.18 a share’. For CapitaLand and Allgreen, however, Morgan Stanley analysts believed that the impact on NAV would be negligible.

BNP Paribas remained neutral overall on Singapore developers in Vietnam. ‘Long-term fundamentals remain favourable with a high urbanisation rate, rising incomes and affluence, returning overseas Vietnamese and an influx of expatriates,’ it said.

Both research houses also highlighted regulatory risks in Vietnam. Morgan Stanley, for instance, said that the residential property market could cool further when a 25 per cent capital gains tax on property transactions takes effect in January 2009.

‘The Vietnamese government is taking pro-active measures to address economic challenges facing the country,’ Keppel Land was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report last week. ‘Foreign investors are still confident of the long-term growth potential of Vietnam. Fundamentals in the property market remain strong.’

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Singapore is safest place in Asia: Mercer rankings

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:41 am

It takes 9th place for personal safety; 32nd for quality of living

IN THE global quest to woo foreign talent, a good 30 cities are placed above Singapore in terms of quality of living, going by consulting firm Mercer’s latest rankings.

But solely on ‘personal safety’, Singapore is in the top league with the best – all of which happen to be in Europe.

In a ranking dominated at the top by Swiss and German cities, Singapore is 32nd in Mercer’s 2008 global quality of living survey, up two places from 2007.

Canadian and Australian cities, as well as New Zealand’s Auckland, also rank strongly in the top 25.

The annual survey covering 215 cities uses New York City as the benchmark with an index score of 100.

This year, top-ranked Zurich scores 108, while at the other end, Baghdad gets just 13.5 points.

Singapore’s index score is 102.9, a small improvement from 102.5 last year.

In Asia (outside Australia and New Zealand), Singapore ranks highest, followed by the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe and Osaka. And only two US cities – Honolulu and San Francisco – are above Singapore.

Mercer’s survey evaluates cities on 39 key indicators in all the major areas that affect the living environment – socio-political and cultural climate; the economy; health and sanitation; education standard; public services; recreation; availability of consumer goods; housing; and the natural environment.

It also produces a separate ranking on ‘personal safety’, covering issues such as internal stability; crime; effectiveness of law enforcement; and relationships with other countries.

Here, Luxembourg takes the top spot, followed by Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich, who all share second position.

Singapore – at No 9 overall, just ahead of Auckland and Wellington – is ’safest’ in Asia, followed by several cities in Japan and Hong Kong.

The Mercer quality of living survey serves as a guide to governments and major companies when sending staff on overseas assignments.

Said Mercer senior researcher Slagin Parakatil: ‘Establishing suitable allowances linked to local costs and quality of living is essential in encouraging expatriate employees with transferable skills to accept international assignments.’

Commenting on Singapore’s results, Wong Su-Yen, managing director of Mercer Asean, said that the island’s improved ranking this year reflects its strength relative to other cities in public services; transport; medical services; housing; and the socio-political environment.

‘On the other hand, Singapore could further improve its standing by enhancing its socio-cultural environment, recreation options and natural environment.

‘The just-released Leisure Plan by the Urban Redevelopment Authority aims to address precisely some of these issues,’ she added.

‘If Singapore continues to enhance its quality of living offerings, we believe the city will continue to rate favourably for expatriates looking to relocate to the region.’

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Singapore leapfrogs Hong Kong as a financial centre

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:39 am

Survey ranks it fourth worldwide but expert says it can’t stand still

SINGAPORE climbed to fourth place on MasterCard’s Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index this year, leapfrogging Chicago and Hong Kong along the way. It is now the number two city in Asia in this ranking of financial centres – with only Tokyo ahead of it.

‘The Centers of Commerce Index is a roadmap for corporations to identify and evaluate investment and market opportunities in a world where cities, instead of countries, have become the primary economic players,’ said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s economic adviser in Asia-Pacific.

The index surveyed 75 cities using seven key indicators of varying weightages that evaluated a city’s legal and political framework, economic stability, ease of doing business, financial flow, business centre, knowledge creation and information flow, and livability.

Singapore’s ranking was driven by its strong showing in relation to the ease of doing business and its legal and political framework indicators, in which it ranked first and second overall, respectively.

Manu Bhaskaran, a member of the panel behind the index, attributed Singapore’s strength in these areas to prudent government leadership in facilitating commerce,

‘The government has made the right decisions in cutting taxes, bringing in talent and focusing on integrated resorts,’ said Mr Bhaskaran at the briefing on the index yesterday.

He is, however, quick to caution against complacency. ‘Singapore tends to do well in the ‘process areas’ which are related to bureaucracy. But other people can learn this formula and mimic it,’ he said.

Instead, Singapore would do well to shore up its competence in the knowledge creation and liveability areas, he said.

It is currently ranked 40th for liveability – an indicator measuring elements like personal freedom and quality of life. ‘To generate more knowledge creation, Singapore should keep adding more universities and encouraging foreign talent,’ said Mr Bhaskaran.

Singapore also has its work cut out if it wants to break into the top three, which is illustrated by the fact that the top three positions have been retained this year by London, New York and Tokyo.

‘London and New York possess critical mass, having amassed a concentration of analysts, investment banks and the support services that accompany them. Critical mass is something that we lack, especially in the financial flows area,’ said Mr Bhaskaran.

The key to overcoming this limitation is cross-border integration and higher levels of economic growth within the Asean region, he revealed. ‘Singapore has to be the capital city in the economic sense in Asean, in order for it to be in the top two,’ he said.

Source : Business Times – 10 Jun 2008

Singapore is easiest city in the world to do business

Filed under: About Singapore,General,Singapore Economy — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:37 am

It is also top in region for economic stability and legal/political framework: Survey

SINGAPORE has leapfrogged rival Hong Kong in a ranking of the most influential commercial centres around the world.

The Republic is now the second most influential centre in Asia, just behind Tokyo, according to the survey, which is said to be used by multinationals to help guide investment decisions.

Singapore sits in fourth spot globally in the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, up two places from last year. Hong Kong fell from fifth to sixth.

Although the Republic trails London, New York and Tokyo, it beat them in terms of a key criterion used to compile the ranking – the ease of doing business.

In last year’s inaugural ranking, Singapore came in fourth in this area, which covers a range of factors, including quality of life, investor protection, health and safety, and corporate tax levels.

Mr Mark Ellwood, the managing director of recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore, attributed the high score to how easy it is to set up a business and to hire foreign talent here.

Mrs Mildred Tan, the managing director of Ernst & Young Associates, said: ‘Singapore is very pro-business, and institutions gravitate towards environments that are open and welcoming.’

She called the ranking a ‘positive reinforcement’ for firms considering doing business in the Republic.

‘When it comes to relocation, they will look at various things, from tax incentives to telecommunications infrastructure. The study will be another indicator for them whether to start here, to remain here, or to grow here.’

Singapore was also top in the Asia-Pacific for two of the other six criteria used in the ranking: economic stability and the legal/political framework.

The ranking of 75 cities is drawn up by a panel of academics and other experts.

It serves as ‘a road map for corporations to identify and evaluate investment and market opportunities in a world where cities, instead of countries, have become the primary economic players’, said Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s economic adviser.

He said Asia ‘is experiencing a renaissance in terms of economic growth and social development’.

Eight Asian cities feature in the top 25 this year, up from five last year. ‘The growth performance of China and India has shifted the economic centre of gravity towards Asia,’ said Dr Hedrick-Wong.

Mr Manu Bhaskaran, the head of economic research at the Centennial Group and one of the eight members of the Worldwide Centres of Commerce research panel, said that given time, Singapore could overtake Tokyo as the top Asian centre of commerce.

‘Tokyo has not opened up the way the US, Europe, Dubai and Singapore have,’ he said, adding that Singapore’s absolute score of 66.16 points was not far behind that of Tokyo (66.6).

The other four criteria used in the ranking are volume and connectivity of financial flow, reputation as a business centre, knowledge creation and information flow, and liveability.

One of Singapore’s biggest challenges appears to be its place in the bottom half of the 75 cities in terms of liveability.

While Vancouver in Canada emerged as the world’s most liveable city, Singapore ranked 40th – or fifth in the Asia-Pacific.

MasterCard said a relative lack of personal freedom dragged its score down.

As was the case last year, the top three places in the study went to London, New York and Tokyo, in that order.

First-timers in the top 25 include Shanghai and Amsterdam.

Mr Bhaskaran said the Chinese city could rise further, as it was ’sitting on top’ of what is probably the most dynamic economy for the next 20 to 30 years.

Strong showing

SINGAPORE’S sterling ranking is the result of its strong position in the Asia-Pacific.

Here’s how the Republic fared in the region based on the seven criteria used:

Legal/political framework: No. 1
Economic stability: No. 1
Ease of doing business: No. 1
Volume and connectivity of financial flow: No. 4
Reputation as a business centre: No. 2
Knowledge creation and information flow: No. 4
Liveability: No. 5

Top 10 cities


Tokyo maintained its third spot in this year’s survey, making it the highest ranked city in the Asia-Pacific.

The MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index ranked 75 cities according to their ability to connect markets and commerce on a global level.

At the top are:
1. London
2. New York
3. Tokyo
4. Singapore
5. Chicago
6. Hong Kong
7. Paris
8. Frankfurt
9. Seoul
10. Amsterdam


Singapore stands a good chance of overtaking Tokyo in the ranking, says Mr Bhaskaran.

Source : Straits Times – 10 Jun 2008

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