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Worldwide Centers of Commerce

Worldwide Centers of CommerceThe new MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index is a multi-year research project that provides insights into the evolving global marketplace. The research provides a ranking and analysis of the top 50 cities around the world that drive global commerce.

Through a robust and innovative research model consisting of six complex measurements that collectively take into account more than 100 separate indicators, the research presents bold new perspectives on the changing role cities play in linking and enabling commerce around the world.

The Index places London first, followed by New York, Tokyo, Chicago and Hong Kong in the top five. Completing the top 10 are Singapore, Frankfurt, Paris, Seoul and Los Angeles.

A prerequisite for success in today’ s global marketplace is an in-depth understanding of how cities are connected and how they grow,

said Robert W. Selander, president and chief executive officer, MasterCard Worldwide.

The Worldwide Centers of Commerce program addresses this need by identifying and providing industry-leading insights into the characteristics and commonalities of cities that advance global commerce most.

Complementing the Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index, MasterCard also released the Worldwide Centers of Commerce Insights report titled, “The Dynamics of Global Cities and Global Commerce.’ The report includes additional, in-depth expert commentary on the vital role cities play in connecting networks to enable global commerce. In the coming months, subsequent reports will be released as part of this initiative, including a growth index that measures the pace and scope of changes taking place within each city identified in the Centers of Commerce Index, and an additional index that will identify and track emerging Centers of Commerce in the developing world.

The trend of commerce becoming more knowledge-driven and less tangible has actually elevated the role of today’ s cities, positioning them as the hubs of complex circuits that fuel the globalized economy and provide connections through which true global commerce takes place,

said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Economic Advisor, MasterCard Worldwide.

This research provides valuable insight into the cities that sit at the center of global commerce as well as the factors that are fueling commerce in each.

Key Findings

  • London: The world’ s leading Center of Commerce. With a flexible operating environment for business, strong global financial connections and exceptionally high levels of international trade, travel and conferences, London secures the top spot in the Centers of Commerce Index. The city outperforms New York in four of the six measurement dimensions, and scores significantly higher than other European cities.
  • National economic factors, market regulations place New York behind London. Once considered the unchallenged financial capital of the world, New York cedes the Financial Flow category to London primarily because bond market regulations in New York affect the volume of listed sales. New York’ s score is also impacted by the less stable US economy and the more volatile US dollar.
  • Finance and innovation make Chicago number two in US. The fourth-ranked center of commerce globally, topping cities such as Hong Kong and Los Angeles, Chicago’ s commodities and financial markets help it rank high in financial flow, while its world-class institutions of higher education lead to high marks on innovation and knowledge creation.
  • The easiest places in the world for doing business: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. A strong national health care system, excellent infrastructure, low traffic and easy access to public transportation helped make Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver the three cities most attractive for doing business.
  • Europe’ s entry point for South American business, Madrid, emerges as a financial leader. Madrid ranks number 16 globally and sixth in Europe, driven largely by an exceptionally strong bond market, low inflation and low level of GDP and exchange rate variance.
  • Economic divide between Eastern and Western Europe remains. The lowest ranking Western European city on the list, Rome, scores nearly equal to Budapest, the highest ranking Eastern European city, a gap that persists within all six dimensions.
  • Tokyo’ s powerhouse economy leads to top ranking in Asia Pacific. Tokyo, the leader in its region and number three overall, boasts the Nikkei 225, the world’ s leading rate of patent creation , and an air traffic hub second only to Hong Kong.
  • Three one-time “Asian Tigers’ make the top ten. Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul all rank among the top 10 Centers of Commerce, with Seoul scoring high marks for its higher education system and patent output, while Hong Kong and Singapore boast top rankings for the strength of their business climate and their prominence in the global financial network. Singapore also rates high for government policies that favor international business and trade.
  • Strong business climate makes Dubai the Middle East leader. The region’ s air and cargo traffic hub, Dubai, also claims a flexible business climate that makes it optimal for growing companies.
  • Latin America is increasingly becoming more global and competitive. Three cities from Latin America placing among the world’ s top 50 Worldwide Centers of Commerce is a strong statement of how the region continues to elevate its role in the global economy.


The index structure consisting of six dimensions was designed by a team of eight independent economic, urban development and social-science experts from leading academic and research institutions around the world, led by renowned economist Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong. Each of these six dimensions in turn consists of a number of indicators, and each indicator is made up of a number of sub-indicators. All told, the Index involves six dimensions, 41 indicators and over 100 sub-indicators. In computing the data, the panel also determined the weight that should be given each of the six dimensions:

  • Legal and Political Framework (10%) – Degree to which legal and political frameworks enable the emergence of a Global Center of Commerce.
  • Economic Stability (10%) – Degree to which a Center of Commerce is handicapped by an unstable economic environment, currency, or unpredictable inflation.
  • Ease of Doing Business (20%) – Availability of quality, cost-competitive trade logistics; level of interconnectedness; and ability to attract and retain talent due to a high quality of living.
  • Financial Flow (22%) – Measurement of the city’s actual output or financial achievement.
  • Business Center (22%) – Degree to which the city intermediates the flow of goods, services, people, finances and information, etc.
  • Knowledge Creation and Information Flow (16%) – Degree to which information flows freely and knowledge is generated.

Worldwide Centers of Commerce Indicators

CHART 1 – The Index involves six dimensions, 41 indicators and more than 100 sub-indicators.

Collectively these six dimensions are meant to cover the key functional characteristics of a global center of commerce. Institutional factors are covered by the “legal and political framework” dimension. The intensity of global connectivity and volume of throughput are captured by the “financial flow” and “business center” dimensions. Risk factors associated with the city are covered by the “economic stability” dimension.

The Index also incorporates factors beyond those considered by traditional definitions of international financial and business centers. For example, in the “ease of doing business” dimension, factors related to quality of life are included, which in turn requires consideration of public policy challenges in urban development and related social policies. Taking into account the increasingly important role of innovations and creativity in driving global economic activities, a whole dimension, “knowledge creation and information flow”, is added to assess the performance of the global centers of commerce.

The weights assigned to each of the six dimensions are determined by the Knowledge Panel. The overall pattern reflects the view that economy-wide data should have less weight than city-specific data.