New Report Highlights the World’s Most Competitive Cities - Global Trade Magazine
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  December 17th, 2015 | Written by

New Report Highlights the World’s Most Competitive Cities

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  • Competitive cities often became better at what they already did.
  • Three quarters of the cities in World Bank report grew faster than their national economies.
  • In the most successful competitive cities, infrastructure investments were made in collaboration with industry.

Improving the competitiveness of cities is a vital pathway to eliminating extreme poverty and promoting prosperity for a country’s citizens, a new World Bank report finds.

The report, “Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth: What, Who, and How,” analyzes 750 cities to determine what makes them competitive and how they have grown their economies. It provides a catalog of urban data that city officials can use to benchmark their performance.

Three quarters of the cities studied in the report grew faster than their national economies since the early 2000s, the report finds, but there is still room for improvement. Millions of jobs can be created if more cities performed at the level of the most competitive ones.

The report finds that to achieve success, competitive cities did not always overhaul their existing economies. Very often they simply became better at what they already did, leveraging their comparative advantage, especially when exporting tradable goods and services to other cities and countries.

“The private sector accounts for almost 75 percent of jobs created worldwide,” said Anabel Gonzalez, senior director, trade and competitiveness global practice at the World Bank Group. “To spur growth and become successful, cities must focus on expanding existing firms, creating new ones, and attracting investors in order to create more jobs, boost incomes of citizens, and grow.”

The report looks at global and regional trends, comparing different types of cities—by income, sector, region, and industrial mix. It found that competitive cities include more than capital cities, or global centers of commerce. They are often secondary cities that are experiencing rapid industrialization, such as Saltillo, Mexico; Meknes and Tangier, Morocco; Coimbatore, India; Gaziantep, Turkey; Bucaramanga, Colombia; Onitsha, Nigeria; and Changsha, China.

“There is no single recipe for becoming a competitive city, but common patterns can be identified and specific techniques can be recommended to city authorities designing and implementing economic development strategies,” said Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, senior director, social, urban, rural, and resilience global practice at the World Bank Group.

Beyond the private sector, the report highlights how competitive cities concentrated interventions on institutions and regulations, infrastructure and land, skills and innovation, and enterprise support and finance. The most successful cities carefully adapted their interventions to their political economy, their economic opportunities and to the needs of their domestic firms.

In the most successful competitive cities, business leaders were consulted about their needs, infrastructure investments were made in collaboration with the industries they aimed to serve, skills initiatives were designed in partnership with firms, and industries were supported where they had a real commercial potential.


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