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Pengfei Ni :What are the Characteristics of Global Urban Competitiveness?

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      From 2008 into the future, more than 50% of the world population will live in cities. While the trend of urbanization is becoming incrEast Asiaingly clear worldwide, the development of small and medium cities remains critical. On the one hand, as people continue to move in, major cities are experiencing reverse urbanization and suburbanization in developed countries. As more and more cities join together due to urban sprawls, the trend of metropolization is seen in many developed countries. On the other hand, in developing countries, medium and large cities tend to have better infrastructures. In the course of accelerated urbanization, people tend to concentrate in such cities in massive scale. As a result, more and more metropolises with populations of millions or even tens of millions are emerging, and the trend of metropolization is also clear. Nevertheless, the bulk part of the urban growth will occur in small cities and towns. By 2025, more than half of the urban population will still live in small and medium cities with population less than half a million.

The urbanization processes and sizes of cities have distinct characteristics in each continent

       In Europe, North America, Oceania, and other developed regions, more than 70% of the population lives in cities. In some of the developing regions, including Latin America and the Caribbean countries, 78% of the population lives in cities. It means that, in Europe, North America, Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean region, the urbanization process has been basically completed. In the developing regions in Asia and Africa, only 40% of the population lives in cities. With the incrEast Asiae of income, the urbanization process is accelerating in these regions, particularly in China and India.  Among the 20 most populated cities, the majority are political and economic centers in developing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. There are a few, however, located in the developed countries.  Among the largest 150 cities, 84 are in Asia, accounting for 46.4% of the sample cities in the region; 22 are in Latin America, accounting for 37.9%; 20 are in Africa, accounting for 56.6%; 15 are in Europe, accounting for 10.5%; 6 are in North America, accounting for 8.6%; and 3 are in Oceania, accounting for 25%.

Market structure of urban competition: oligopoly

       Market share is also an important index of competitiveness. For cities with both internal and external demands, GDP would be a good alternative of market share. Through the comparison of their GDPs, we could identify the market features of the competitiveness of individual cities.  Wide gaps in GDP exist among the 500 sample cities. Tokyo ranks the first with a GDP of $ 584.095 billion, and Grozny, with a GDP of $ 17 million, is at the bottom of the list. The total GDP of the top 10 cities amounts to $ 3,121.71 billion, accounting for 27.1% of the total of all 500 cities, or close to the total GDP of the bottom 380 cities, which is $ 3,131.8 billion, or 27.2% of the total. The average GDP of the top 10 cities is $ 312,171 billion, while that of the bottom 380 cities is merely $8.24 billion.

Substantial GDP gaps exist among cities in each continent

       Large GDP figures are found in European, North American, Asian and Oceania cities, which either have high GDP per capita or large population, or both. Relatively speaking, GDP of Latin American and African cities is lower. Among the top_ (most populous)  150 cities with the highest GDP, 49 are in Asia, accounting for 27.1% of the sample cities of the region; 43 are in North America, accounting for 61.4%; 37 are in Europe, accounting for 25.9%; 12 are in Latin America, accounting for 20.7%; 7 are in Oceania, accounting for 58%; and 2 are in Africa, accounting for 5.6%.

Growth rates vary substantially among cities and Chinese cities have the highest speed

       Average annual GDP growth rates of the cities during the 2001-2005 period vary substantially, with Baotou’s 20.05% being the highest and Harare’s -7.38% being the lowest. The average growth rate of the cities is 5.94% with 98 cities reporting growth rates higher than 10%, and 13 others reporting negative growth rates.

Western European and North American cities have maintained slow growth; some Asian cities are emerging as new growth centers; and some African cities continue to deteriorate

       Substantial gaps in average GDP growth rates exist among cities in the 2001-2005. The average growth rate of Asian cities is the highest, 8.4%, followed by Latin America, 7.8%; Europe, 4.5% and Africa, 4.1%. At the bottom of the list are North America and Oceania, at 2.7% and 2.5% respectively. Among the cities with GDP growth rate higher than 10%, 72 cities are in Asia, 14 in Latin America, 11 in Europe (mainly in Russia) and 1 in Africa. None is in North America or Oceania. Among those with GDP growth rate lower than 2%, 44 cities are in Europe, 24 in North America, 22 in Asia (mainly in Japan), 5 in Latin America, 5 in Oceania and 5 in Africa.

—— From“Global Urban Competitiveness Report(2007-2008)”,Pengfei  Ni with Peter Karl Kresl