Generally Singapore is being compared to other Asia-Pacific business hubs for a wide variety of metrics ranging from business and trade performances to quality of life, cost of living and lifestyle, with Singapore and Hong Kong as the most familiar city-pair taken into account as term of reference.
As a regular commuter between Singapore and Miami, I live in two cities that at first sight seem so different, and indeed they are, but also share a lot of common features from both business and lifestyle perspectives.
Singapore and Miami have long been the benchmark for global business and city hubs, elevating the bar of city quality and setting new standards on the lifestyle front as well in redesigning the business environment.
Miami is a world icon and reference for lifestyle, it has always been driving and adding new trends in art, design, luxury residential, hospitality, fashion, and style, to become a model and a source of inspiration.
Singapore has always been business-driven resulting in being today a unique business-friendly, corruption-free, bureaucracy-free business environment that elevated the island state to #4 in the list of global financial centers, right after London, New York, and Hong Kong, but only 43 points from London as per the GFCI 14 rating, thus challenging London and New York as leading global center.
Singapore and Miami are culturally diverse and display sophisticated authenticity, a unique breed of cities that became what they are for a unique combination of factors such as a geographic challenge turned into a strategic advantage to become key regional hubs and innovation hubs, a vision resulting in a benchmark rarely seen elsewhere in the world, a load of opportunities caught at the right moment, and a strong desire to become a role model for locals to enjoy and be proud of, and visitors to appreciate, but difficult to copy and paste to be replicated in a different context or continent.
A geographic challenge turned into an advantage: Singapore lies at the southern-most tip of the Malay peninsula, a 50 km-wide east-to-west and 26 km north-to-south island-state with 5.3 million inhabitants commanding today a strategic position at the core of the ASEAN region and gateway to the Greater China markets and the Asia-Pacific region.
Miami lies on the south-east corner of Florida, the southern-most tip of the continental United States, and with 5.5 million inhabitants the Miami metropolitan area stretches along a 160 km-long and 8 to 30 km-wide strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades to include the communities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach, as a sort of natural strategic hub connecting the US with the Caribbean and Latin America markets.
Both Singapore and Miami developed from the vision of their fathers.
The enlightened vision of Singapore’s founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, who engineered the independence of the city-state from Malaysia, and became effective on 09 August 1965, contributed in designing, creating, and developing a magnificent example of nation growth that passed from 3rd to 1st world in a matter of just 4 decades to become what is known today as the Singapore model of economic development.
Miami flourished in a matter of just a century from a small city incorporated on 28 July 1896 with a population of 300 to current global leadership, and the driving engine has been the arrival of the railroad earlier that year, on 15 April, thanks to the vision of Henry Flagler, known as the father of Miami, who was instrumental for the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida, from Jacksonville in the north all the way down south to Key West.
Singapore and Miami are classified as Alpha-Cities for being integrated with the global economy as a trait d’union linking major economic regions into the world economy.
The only country in Asia to have the AAA credit rating, Singapore can command a business platform with 20 effective Free Trade Agreements, playing the role of the leading financial and business hub in South-East Asia, catering the emerging and developing markets of the ASEAN region which comprises a population of 600 million, a GDP growth rate of 4.7%, and an inflow of FDI totaling US$114 billion, and preferred gateway for the Greater China markets and the Asia-Pacific region.
Miami is at the core of the Americas, and a crossroad between the world’s largest and most diversified economy, the engine for global growth and the most significant market in the world for international trade – the USA – and the Caribbean area, Mexico, and Latin America, reaching out markets comprising a population of 450 million between Canada, USA, and Mexico.
With the fastest growing economy in the US, and currently attracting an inflow of FDI totaling US$40 billion, if Florida were an independent country it would rank as the world’s 20th largest economy.
Talking about Trade, in 2012 trade between Singapore and Miami generated US$258.51 million in export from Singapore to Miami, and US$48.82 million in export from Miami to Singapore, ranking Singapore at #43 with the Miami customs district.
With Florida being a leader in the aviation and aerospace industry, 22 Florida companies (5 from the Miami-Dade County) from the aviation, aerospace parts supply, airborne and ground flight data and communications software, maintenance and repair sectors attended the Singapore Airshow 2014, which is held in Singapore every second year and is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition, and yielded US$32.5 million in sales.
Trade again, and both Singapore and Miami offer world class infrastructures enhanced with specialised logistics capabilities.
The Port of Singapore ranked #1 in the world until 2011, and now sits in 2nd position after Shanghai, but recorded in 2013 a +2.9% YoY improvement in container volume with a movement of 32.6 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit, based on the 20” long intermodal container).
A new project to relocate container terminals to the industrial hub of Tuas on the south-western side of Singapore has been confirmed and expected to be operative from 2027 when the port’s current leases at Tanjong Pagar and Keppel will expire.
The new facility will be gigantic and capable of handling up to 65 million TEUs, almost doubling the current capacity of 35 million TEUs.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Antonio Acunzo is the CEO at MTW GROUP | Foreign Market Entry Advisors, a market-entry strategy and brand marketing advisory firm founded in Florida, and with Asia-Pacific office in Singapore. He brings with him over 15 years of experience in international business in the US and Asian markets focused on the Luxury and THL industries, and is a regular speaker at marketing and international business events.