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Miami Tower - 100 SE 2nd St.

MIAMI, FL 33131



Copyright © 2005-2024 MTW GROUP All rights reserved




Miami Tower - 100 SE 2nd St.

MIAMI, FL 33131



International Business:


A tale of two Cities:

Miami vs. Singapore 

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What two global hubs half the world apart have in common


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by Antonio Acunzo


The Economist, the British weekly magazine focusing on international affairs, recently ranked Miami at first place amid the top 10 prominent global cities, ahead of Singapore at No. 2, Dubai at No. 3, and New York at No. 4. This index, published in June, considered four different metrics during the past three years: GDP growth, population growth, real estate prices, and office vacancies.


As an international business advisor, it’s been a natural choice for me to be based in Miami and Singapore for my business advisory, which focuses on market-entry strategy in the U.S. and ASEAN markets. And as a resident of both, it’s easy for me to compare these two cities that at first seem so different (and indeed are) but also share many common features from both business and lifestyle perspectives.

Singapore is typically compared to other Asia-Pacific business hubs for a wide variety of criterion, ranging from business and trade performance to quality of life, cost of living, and lifestyle, with Singapore and Hong Kong as the most familiar city-pair juxtaposition. 


But Miami and Singapore have long been doppelgangers as global business hubs, raising the bar for city quality and setting new standards for business environment, urban landscape, and attractiveness for investors, start-ups, and new business ventures.


Miami is a world icon not only a gateway for business but a reference for lifestyle. 


For years, it has been driving and adding new trends in art, design, luxury residences, hospitality, fashion, and style. Singapore has been business-driven, resulting in being today a uniquely business-friendly, corruption-free, bureaucracy-free business environment that has elevated the island state to No. 3 in the list of Global Financial Centers, only 37 points from New York (No. 1) and eight points from London (No. 2) as per the GFCI 33 index published in March 2023. Miami and Singapore are both culturally diverse and display sophisticated authenticity, a breed of cities that became what they are because of unique combinations of factors – such as a geographic challenge turned into a strategic advantage.

Miami lies on the southeast corner of Florida, the southernmost tip of the continental United States. With a population of 6.25 million, the Greater Miami Metropolitan Area (i.e., South Florida’s three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach) stretches along a 100-mile-long, five-to-19-mile-wide strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades. It has been a natural strategic hub connecting the U.S. with Caribbean and Latin American markets.


Singapore lies at the southernmost tip of the Malay peninsula, with a population of six million. It is an island-state that stretches 31 miles wide east-to-west, and 16 miles north-to-south. It is a strategic location at the core of the rich ASEAN marketplace comprising 10 countries in Southeast Asia, and a gateway to China and the Asia-Pacific region.


Both Miami and Singapore also developed 

from the vision of their founding fathers.


Miami blossomed to global leadership in just a century, from a small city incorporated in 1896 (population: 300) with the driving engine (literally) of a new railroad. That transportation link arrived thanks to the vision of railroad magnate Henry Flagler, known as the father of Miami. He was instrumental in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida, from Jacksonville in the north to Key West in the south.


Singapore was born thanks to the enlightened vision of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, who engineered the independence of the city-state from Malaysia in 1965. His contribution to the design and development of the city-state took it from the Third World to the First World in just four decades, to become what is known today as the Singapore Model of Economic Development.

Both Miami and Singapore are also global trading hubs on the edge of huge markets


Singapore has forged an extensive network of 27 effective Free Trade Agreements, including the FTA with the U.S. (signed in 2003). It caters to the emerging and developing ASEAN marketplace, which comprises a population of 688 million, with a GDP of $3.6 trillion dollars. The Port of Singapore ranks as the world’s top transshipment port, the busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage, and the second-largest in the world after the Chinese Port of Shanghai. In 2022, it recorded the movement of 37.3 million containers, aka TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units, based on the standard length of intermodal containers).


Half a world away, PortMiami is the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, strategically situated as the nexus between Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, making it an ideal transshipment hub. With a recorded movement of 1,197,663 TEUs in 2022, Miami is the Cargo Gateway of the Americas, a crossroad between the world’s largest and most diversified economy – the U.S.A. – and the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. It links markets comprising a population of 508 million between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, three countries united by the USMCA Free Trade Agreement that went into effect in 2020, replacing the previous NAFTA.

Both cities also have vibrant airports 


Singapore Changi Airport was voted World’s Best Airport this year by Skytrax for the 12th time, and in 2022, over 31.9 million passengers transited through this outstanding facility. While that is far from the 68.3 million passengers recorded in 2019 before COVID decimated worldwide air traffic, Changi is on a recovery trajectory to regain its domination in the top 10 global airports by international passengers after Dubai International and London Heathrow.

Unfortunately for the U.S., there’s no U.S. airport in the top 20 world’s best. The first U.S. airport on the list is Seattle-Tacoma at No. 18; Miami International does not even make the top 100. Notwithstanding, Miami International Airport (MIA) ranks as the No. 1 U.S. airport for international passengers (ahead of New York’s JFK airport), with a record 50.6 million passengers in 2022.

On the cargo side, the situation is reversed, with Miami International Airport ranking No. 8 as the world’s busiest airport by cargo volume in 2022, handling 2.5 million tons. Singapore’s Changi airport was No. 17 with a total of 1.85 million tons.

Luxury residential Real Estate


Another common trait between Miami and Singapore is continuous development in luxury residential real estate. In Miami right now, there are 77 new luxury residential condos under construction and expected to be ready by 2025, bringing an additional 11,500 luxury condo units to a residential market that stretches east from the I-95 highway to the Atlantic Ocean. Among these condos, many are residences by iconic luxury brands, such as St.Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, and Aston Martin.


In Singapore right now, 58 new luxury residential condos are under construction, of which 10 are particularly high-end, adding 4,747 luxury units to the Singapore inventory.


Many of the new properties are designed by internationally acclaimed architects, collecting international awards, including landmarks like Reflections at Keppel Bay, designed by the deconstructivism archi-star Daniel Libeskind.


True Alpha Cities


On the leisure side, Miami is the “Cruise Capital of the World”, with over four million cruise passengers transiting PortMiami in 2022, and over 1.7 million via Port Everglades in nearby Fort Lauderdale.


Singapore, at the same time, aims at becoming Asia’s passenger cruise hub after the opening of the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore in 2012, a $500 million state-of-the-art facility which welcomed 1.2 million cruise passengers in 2022.


Miami and Singapore are undoubtedly top of class, true Alpha Cities setting the benchmark for global trade hubs, unique cities with a rare vibe and strong identities that redefine their business and lifestyle environments, taking them to the next level.



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