Singapore was the top ranked city in fDi's Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2009/10 list and has held on to first place in the 2011/12 ranking. It scored well in all categories, and was placed in the top five for economic potential, business friendliness and human resources, while claiming the top position for for infrastructure and FDI strategy.

Singapore's GDP per capita is one of the highest among the cities in the ranking, while its productivity is forecast to grow by more than 4% annually over the next five years. The city attracted 327 greenfield FDI projects in 2010 according to data from fDiMarkets; an increase of 20% on the previous year. More than 200 projects have been recorded in 2011 (for the first three quarters). 


Shanghai is ranked in second place and topped the economic potential and human resources categories. The city has attracted more greenfield FDI than any other in the Asia-Pacific region and is home to more than 500,000 students studying at an array of world-renowned universities. Shanghai performed notably strongly in the business friendliness category.

Seoul finished third in the ranking, up from fifth place in the Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2009/10 list. The South Korean capital performed well in the infrastructure and human resources categories, and is the best connected city in the competition, with direct flights to 130 international destinations. The city has a large student population and South Korea has the highest tertiary education enrolment rate in Asia-Pacific.

Far Eastern promise

Chinese cities performed well in the competition; besides Shanghai in second place, Shenzhen and Beijing also made it into the top 10 in fourth and seventh place, respectively. Chinese cities dominate the economic potential ranking; seven of the top 10 cities in the category are from China. GDP in China is forecast to grow by almost 10% annually over the next five years, and unemployment rates in the country are generally lower than in other cities in the Asia-Pacific region

Taiwan capital Taipei is ranked fifth in the Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2011/12 list, due in part to its high productivity, healthy export growth and a good track record as both a source and destination for FDI. Taipei has attracted 248 greenfield FDI projects since 2003 according to fDiMarkets and has been the source of 603 projects over the same period. Hong Kong came sixth overall and scored particularly well in the economic potential, business friendliness and FDI strategy categories; GDP per capita is high and exports from the country continue to grow, although at a slower rate more recently due to weaker demand from the US and Europe. Hong Kong is in second place overall for the amount of greenfield FDI attracted adjusted for location size, second only to Rayong in Thailand.

Tokyo has fallen from second place in the Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2009/10 ranking but remains in the top 10, in ninth place. Japan was one of the few Asian economies affected by recession in 2009, and growth for 2011 is forecast at -0.4%, according to the International Monetary Fund. However, Japan's GDP is forecast to grow over the next five years, albeit at a slower rate than in neighbouring economies, and Tokyo remains one of the wealthiest cities in the region in terms of income per capita, scoring highly for infrastructure, human resources and quality of life. While damage from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan's north-east coast caused a drop in some Japanese cities' FDI performance, the likes of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Sapporo still scored highly for infrastructure, largely due to their large ports, high broadband penetration and internet accessibility.

On top down under

Melbourne and Sydney both feature in the top 10; Melbourne retains its position as the highest ranked Australian city in the competition at eighth while Sydney placed 10th. Australian cities performed well in terms of foreign investment; year-on-year FDI projects increased by one-third in Melbourne, by 25% in Sydney and by about 40% in Brisbane. According to the fDi Global Outlook Report 2011, capital investment into Australia increased 2.5-fold in 2010. Australia and New Zealand also dominated the quality of life category.

Phnom Penh in Cambodia is the most cost-effective location in the ranking, followed by Hai Phong and Da Nang of Vietnam. Profit tax in Cambodia is relatively low at 22.5%, and office and industrial costs are very competitive in Phnom Penh, while property and labour costs are low in neighbouring Vietnam. Rayong in Thailand is also a notably strong performer for cost-effectiveness. Its low industrial rents and labour costs have helped the city attract 180 greenfield FDI projects between 2003 and 2011, the highest amount of FDI for cities of its size in the competition.

Busan and Incheon in South Korea are new additions to the Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2011/12 ranking, both scoring well in the FDI strategy category. Both are proactive in FDI promotion and offer investors a favourable investment climate, skilled workforce and good infrastructure. Incheon airport is the largest in South Korea and the port at Busan has the potential to become a logistics hub for north-east Asia.


fDiCities of the Future shortlists are created by in independent collection of data by fDiBenchmark across 141 Asia-Pacific cities. This information was set under six categories: economic potential, human resources, cost-effectiveness, quality of life, infrastructure and business friendliness. A seventh category was added to the scoring – FDI promotion strategy. In this category, 32 Asia-Pacific cities submitted details about their promotion strategy and this was judged and scored by our independent judging panel.

Cities scored up to a maximum of 10 points under each individual criterion which were weighted by importance to give the overall scores. Where data is available only at a national rather than city level, a lower weighting was generally applied.


In April 2008, the Financial Times acquired fDiMarkets and fDiBenchmark. fDiMarkets is an independent database tracking global FDI on a real-time basis whereas fDi Benchmark is an independent database which benchmarks global locations on how attractive they are to foreign investors. This division compiled the majority of the data for the Cities of the Future competition with the exception of the FDI promotion strategy, which was submitted by individual cities and judged by our judging panel. These changes have made the competition even more objective.

Click on the link below for a PDF version of the complete results:


Download the Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2011/12 Press Release here:


Download previous Asian Cities of the Future results here:

Asian Cities of the Future 2009/10
Asian Cities of the Future 2007/08 


Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future Awards Ceremony Photo Gallery

Click here for more photos from the awards ceremony.


Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2013/14

To register your interest in the next ranking, fDi Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2013/14 please contact Grá