Antony Funnell: One of the criticisms is that any developing nation establishing a charter city would risk draining the rest of the country of its existing talent and capital.
Paul Romer: This is a very real concern, and it’s an issue that needs to be examined. I think the net effect would actually be to go the other direction. If you look at many of these very poor countries, the college educated workers who are trained in these countries very frequently leave and come to the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia. So part of what you could do if you had a modern, well-governed city, is attract back, the nationals who have left the region. In addition, you could also attract highly skilled individuals who had been residents or citizens in other parts of the world, to come live in an area and start to interact with people close by. So Hong Kong attracted highly skilled people from all over the world, and eventually when China opened up, the presence of all of that talent in Hong Kong created many more opportunities for trade, for manufacturing, for growth inside China than China would have had if Hong Kong weren’t there.
Read or listen to more from the interview on the Future Tense website.