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Thursday, July 7, 2016, 23:47

HK moves up region’s expatriate pay ladder

By Lin Wenjie
HK moves up region’s expatriate pay ladder
A view of Central in Hong Kong. A recent survey shows that expatriates in Hong Kong are offered the highest pay package in the Asia Pacific region, excluding tax. (Edmond Tang / China Daily)

Expatriates in Hong Kong took home the fourth-highest pay packages in the Asia Pacific region last year – up a notch from 2014 – as the Hong Kong dollar’s appreciation against other regional currencies gathered steam.

According to the latest annual expatriate pay survey conducted by London-based human resources consultancy ECA International, the SAR still lags behind Japan, the Chinese mainland and India which boast relatively high tax rates.

However, the total cost of an expatriate pay package in Hong Kong hit a four-year low, falling by 2 percent compared with 2014, because the city has more expatriates from Asia, instead of countries with higher costs of living, such as the United States and the UK.

The value of a typical expatriate package for a middle-grade manager in the SAR stands at HK$2.07 million, or US$267,000.

An expatriate package is calculated on the basis of three main elements – cash salary; perks like accommodation, children’s international school education, utilities or cars; and taxes.

HK moves up region’s expatriate pay ladder
Japan is home to Asia’s highest expatriate packages. On average, a package for a middle-grade manager expatriate in Japan is worth US$329,000 – down by 12 percent from 2014’s US$375,000 as the Japanese yen weakened against the US dollar over 2015 – compared with US$290,000 on the Chinese mainland and US$278,000 in India.

“The number of staff sent to Hong Kong by foreign companies will not be affected by the ranking, as long as Hong Kong is still an attractive place for companies to do business here,” said Lee Quane, Asia regional director at ECA International.

“In addition, more employees are now willing to work in Hong Kong, especially those from the UK, because the Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the US dollar, meaning that employees are less affected by the impact of currency volatility,” he said.

The survey also showed that expatriates in Hong Kong are offered the highest pay package in the region, excluding tax.

“The most expensive part is the benefits element, such as housing and education. The limited availability of accommodation and international school places in Hong Kong puts pressure on companies which cover the costs,” Quane said. “If companies can reduce their benefits expenditure on expatriates, the costs can fall further.”

Malaysia has the lowest total expatriate pay package in the region, falling two places from last year. The slide was attributed to the Malaysian ringgit’s steep depreciation against the US dollar.

cherrylin@chinadailyhk.com
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