The study takes off from the more general notion of globalization as a dominant force that enables mobility and openness of capital, markets and society as well as global integration. Along with keeping at pace with globalization, comes the understanding of its manifestations and effects. Foreign direct investments (FDI), by acting as a global network, internationalizes economic activities as well facilitates the transfer of knowledge, technologies and human capital. On the other hand, manifestations of globalization are most evident in cities through geographical agglomeration of FDI clusters across space. Production activities taking place in these clusters, in turn, transform cities from industrial sites to centers of “advanced services”. Competitiveness is argued to result from the presence of these clusters of specialized and innovative global institutions. Where globalization leads to the increasing competition among cities to pull in foreign investments, spurs the need to develop FDI-attractive cities. While the premise has been set, attractiveness of cities to FDI tends to be a broad subject. Despite a large body of knowledge dedicated to the study of urban attractiveness in general as well as locational preferences of FDI firms. However, only a few tackle urban attractiveness from a different perspective. With supporting relevant literature and theory, this study argues that an added component such as that of spatial qualities and urban character also constitutes urban attractiveness and has bearing to the overall ability of cities to attract FDI. The variables Distinctiveness, Diversity and Vitality sprang from notable studies on place imaging, place marketing, place-making and the sense of place as well as various urban design and architecture theories that attempt to create and package cities attractive to visitors, investments and for citizens alike. However, an empirical approach to examine the relationship and the extent upon which spatial qualities and urban character can attract Foreign Direct Investment inflow is the objective of this paper. Taking as scope of the study is the East and Asia Pacific region where a surge of FDI inflow is proved to be directed towards. The scope further narrows down into two cities per high and medium FDI inflow categories, selecting Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Metro Manila. FDI inflow counts of these cities, coupled with locational data are geomapped into GIS. Where FDI sectors agglomerate themselves are taken as samples or FDI districts. Urban attractiveness variable and indicator values are then derived, tested and analyzed relative to these sample FDI districts. Considering the theoretical and empirical results of this study, not only has the positioning of East Asia and Pacific cities been established but the need to develop FDI-attractive cities with an emphasis on spatial qualities and urban character as a component that help shape cities as holistic places. Results yielding substantial significant variables prove that spatial qualities and urban character have bearing over the attractiveness of Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Metro Manila, especially on the Central Business Districts, to FDI inflow.

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Wall, R. (Ronald), Yilema, M.G. (Mahlet)
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Alforque, J. (Jeancyn). (2017, September). Urban attractiveness. Retrieved from