Asia Pacific – a region of diversityMay 16, 2011 / By Dr. Jane Murray
One of the great things about living in Asia Pacific is its diversity – the multitude of cultures, languages and physical landscapes. As an economist and property researcher, what’s equally fascinating is the different stages of economic and property market development across the region.
Originally from Australia, I now live in Hong Kong. Both places have a lot in common including their mature economies and transparent property markets. But there are also striking differences – Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on earth, Australia one of the least. Hong Kong is a city always on the go, while in comparison Sydney now seems a pretty laid back sort of place. Hong Kong has an amazing number of tall buildings, 7,700 in total, while Sydney has 850. While their skylines are quite different, they are both beautiful harbour cities.
At the other end of the spectrum, the rapidly emerging economies of the region are seeing dramatic changes in urbanisation, wealth and property markets. China and India are firmly in the spotlight as they rapidly rise up the ranks in terms of economic influence and transformation of their urban environments. Other countries around the region are also starting to be looked at more closely by MNCs and investors. A good example is Indonesia, a commodity rich country which has notched up solid economic growth in recent years. It has the world’s fourth largest population and is poised to become the fastest growing consumer market globally after China and India.
Another country on the cusp of major change is Sri Lanka. Like Indonesia, its economic prospects look bright these days. The civil war ended a couple of years ago and tourists are now flocking to the country. As a recent tourist myself, I can vouch for the country’s numerous attractions including history, wildlife, beaches and verdant tea plantations. Currently only 15% of the population lives in cities. However over the coming years, we can expect that Sri Lanka will be similar to many other countries in Asia and see increasing urbanisation. At the same time its economy should move up the value chain with a growing percentage of economic output related to the services sector. That in turn, should drive a major transformation of the country’s property markets.