China has leapfrogged the US to become the world’s richest country in built assets, according to a new report.

Published by design and consultancy Arcadis, the report estimates the built asset wealth of China at US$ 47.6 trillion, significantly greater than the estimated US$ 36.8 trillion of the US.

Produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the Global Built Asset Wealth Index calculates the total wealth based in all buildings and infrastructure that add to productivity.

Encompassing 32 economies that account for 87% of global GDP, the report reveals that the total built asset wealth of the world, now stands at an estimated US$ 218 trillion – equivalent to US$ 30,700 for every person alive today.

The reason for China’s step up to the top of the wealth list is explained by the country’s determined and long-standing efforts to underpin its rapid economic growth with buildings and infrastructure.

Since 2000, China has invested some US$ 33 trillion in its built assets – more than all other world economies combined and equating to nine per cent of its GDP.

By contrast, the US currently invests 2% of GDP on buildings and infrastructure.

Given China’s current growth model, the country’s built asset stock will be worth more than double that of the US by 2025, and exceed in size the built asset wealth of the next four listed economies combined.

Reflecting on the monumental efforts of China to top the league table of the world’s wealthiest built asset nations, Julien Cayet, Global Leader of Business Advisory at Arcadis, said, “The health and wealth of a nation can be measured in many different ways and while factors such as GDP or employment have great value, a prosperous society is underpinned by a well-developed built environment that meets the needs of its people and economy.”

There were also, however, words of caution from Mr Cayet, who added, “ With so much uncertainty now on the horizon, even China and its fast-growth neighbours will need a renewed focus on quality over quantity.”

He continued, “Developed economies have experienced a long-term stagnation and decline of their built asset stock, as aging infrastructure falls into disrepair and investment fails to keep up. This revelation comes at the very time they may need to tighten the fiscal belts and do more with less. It is critical that each investment they make – be it new buildings and infrastructure, or upgrade and repair – considers the whole lifecycle of these assets to deliver the built environment that their society needs.”

In terms of built asset wealth per capita, the report reveals that Qatar has now overtaken become the global leader, with US$ 198,000 in built assets for every citizen.

The top ten nations in the Arcadis Global Built Asset Wealth Index are:

Rank

Country

2015 (US$)

Ranking change from 2013

1

China

47.6tn

+1

2

USA

36.8tn

-1

3

Japan

18.2tn

=

4

India

15.2tn

=

5

Germany

10.2tn

=

6

Russia

8.4tn

+3

7

Italy

7.914tn

=

8

France

7.912tn

-2

9

South Korea

6.1tn

-1

10

Brazil

6tn

+3

Selected others

13

UK

4.8tn

-2

16

Australia

3.3tn

+2

17

Saudi Arabia

3.1tn

+1

20

Netherlands

2.2tn

-1

24

Belgium

1.4tn

-1

25

UAE

1.3tn

=

30

Chile

0.9tn

=


Forecast to 2025

Ranking

Country

2015 built asset wealth (US$ trillion)

2025 Forecast

2025 ranking

Change: 2015-2025

1

China

47.58

97.04

1

0

2

USA

36.82

45.25

2

0

3

Japan

18.24

16.40

4

-1

4

India

15.24

23.17

3

+1

5

Germany

10.21

10.43

5

0

6

Russia

8.44

5.76

13

-7

7

Italy

7.91

7.71

8

-1

8

France

7.91

8.14

7

+1

9

South Korea

6.12

7.63

9

0

10

Brazil

5.95

6.80

11

-1

11

Mexico

5.89

7.37

10

+1

12

Spain

5.77

5.39

16

-4

13

UK

4.82

5.69

14

-1

14

Indonesia

4.70

8.33

6

+8

15

Canada

4.56

5.66

15

0

16

Australia

3.27

4.30

18

-2

17

Saudi Arabia

3.15

6.80

12

+5

18

Thailand

2.99

4.50

17

+1

19

Turkey

2.55

2.43

23

-4

20

Netherlands

2.15

2.30

24

-4

21

Poland

1.94

2.43

22

-1

22

Malaysia

1.68

2.82

19

+3

23

South Africa

1.50

2.01

25

-2

24

Belgium

1.40

1.48

27

-3

25

UAE

1.33

2.44

21

+4

26

Egypt

1.20

1.16

29

-3

27

Hong Kong

1.16

1.70

28

-1

28

Philippines

1.14

2.55

20

+8

29

Singapore

1.06

1.90

26

+3

30

Chile

0.86

1.15

30

0

31

Qatar

0.45

1.00

31

0

32

Ghana

0.20

0.38

32

0

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