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Asia Pacific Cities Compete to Join Elite "Big Six"

Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong will have to work hard to retain their top city status, says JLL report

SINGAPORE, 5 NOVEMBER 2015 - Asia Pacific’s three established world cities risk being outshone by emerging cities in the region over the next decade, according to new research from global real estate consultancy JLL in conjunction with The Business of Cities.

Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong make up half of the ‘Big Six’ established world cities and, along with London, New York and Paris, attract world class corporations, talent and more than one fifth of global real estate investment.

However, the report, Globalisation and Competition: The New World of Cities, reveals that a number of cities in Asia Pacific could challenge their dominance. Sydney and Seoul are identified as the most likely to break into this elite group in future. Meanwhile Shanghai and Beijing are considered nearly-emerged, with Shanghai already one of the world’s top 10 financial hubs.

Rosemary Feenan, director of Global Research Programmes at JLL, says: “In order for the ‘Big Six’ cities to maintain their dominance, they will need to execute bold and ambitious urban transformation projects to accommodate growth and stay globally competitive.”

“Our research shows that a new world order of cities is evolving, with several emerging cities ready to break from the pack. In Asia in particular, there are strong challenges to the old order from agile higher-value emerging cities like Bangalore, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.”​

New Asian power players emerging

Singapore and Hong Kong remain the most business-friendly cities in the world, along with having strong education, innovation and infrastructure credentials. Tokyo, meanwhile, is the world’s third-biggest real estate investment market and has recently seen a record-breaking number of tourist arrivals, thanks to visa deregulation and the weaker yen.

However, in the new era of city competition, the rigid hierarchy is breaking down as more cities than ever ‘go global’. The increasingly globalised urban world is changing the geography of commercial real estate and is offering new opportunities and niches for cities outside the old order, says the report. 

Alastair Hughes, Asia Pacific CEO of JLL, says: “As emerging cities in Asia Pacific move to the next phase of their evolution, the real estate sector will play an increasingly important role in creating a ‘sense of place’ and making them more liveable and sustainable. This will have wide-ranging implications for citizens, governments, corporations and provide some great opportunities for investors.”

Taipei, for example, is identified as an emerging world city, a growing financial centre with strong infrastructure and excellent governance. Kuala Lumpur is also considered a competitive megacity, acting as a gateway to the regional markets in Southeast Asia, with its strategic location and dynamic labour markets.

Jakarta and Manila are among the emerging cities making the fastest progress across key indicators, currently seen as ‘high potential, but weakly governed’. These cities, along with Mumbai, are attracting investment and outsourcing activities, although they face a number of challenges relating to infrastructure, governance and quality of life.

Download the complete report here. Please click here for The New World Order of Cities illustration

Top 10 Emerging World Cities in leading indices*

  1. Shanghai
  2. Beijing
  3. Dubai
  4. Istanbul
  5. Taipei
  6. Kuala Lumpur
  7. Moscow
  8. Sao Paolo
  9. Bangkok
  10. Mexico City

*  Benchmark performance across seven major indices

Notes to Editors:
JLL’s Cities Research Center is underpinned by 12 years of pioneering city research and brings together the firm’s resources and expertise on cities around the world to help clients to understand the new world of cities and identify new opportunities.

About JLL
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate.  With annual fee revenue of $4.7 billion and gross revenue of $5.4 billion, JLL has more than 230 corporate offices, operates in 80 countries and has a global workforce of approximately 58,000.  On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 3.4 billion square feet, or 316 million square meters, and completed $118 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2014. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $57.2 billion of real estate assets under management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit

JLL has over 50 years of experience in Asia Pacific, with over 31,100 employees operating in 83 offices in 16 countries across the region. The firm was named number one real estate advisor in Asia at the 2015 Euromoney Real Estate Awards and won the ‘Best Property Consultancy’ in seven Asia Pacific countries at the International Property Awards Asia Pacific 2014.

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