The latest MyExpatriate Market Pay survey published annually by ECA International has found expatriate pay packages in Hong Kong rose in 2017, after previously hitting a five-year low in 2016.
When considering the cost of an expatriate package, companies need to factor in three main elements: the cash salary, benefits – such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars – and tax. To assist companies relocating staff with benchmarking their packages against the market, ECA conducts its annual MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey of pay levels for expatriates around the world, including benefits, allowances, salary calculation methods and tax treatment.
The value of a typical expatriate pay package for a Middle Manager in Hong Kong is USD 268,514, a rise of USD 3,027 compared to last year.
“Cash salaries for expatriates in Hong Kong dropped last year whereas the cost of benefits provided has increased, meaning that it is now slightly more expensive for a company to employ expatriates in Hong Kong than it was 12 months ago,” said Lee Quane, regional director – Asia at ECA International. “Although total costs associated with employing expatriates increased marginally in 2017 versus the previous year, cash compensation actually fell, whereas the cash salary packages offered to local staff increased by an average rate of four per cent.”
The gap between Hong Kong and China has continued to close, with the average pay package for a Middle Manager expatriate living in China decreasing by approximately USD 6,000.
Quane said, “China has seen the average expat pay package fall to USD 276,387, a drop of around USD 6,000. This is a result of exchange rates as the dollar has strengthened against the Yuan. However, despite the drop in pay packages in China and their rise in Hong Kong, China still places higher and is the fourth most expensive country in the world for a company to employ expatriates.”
“The drop in expatriate pay packages in China has resulted in India moving up to second in the rankings after an average rise of a huge USD 15,230 for expatriates working in India.
“The increase in India is mostly down to a surge in expatriate costs, such as accommodation, as a growing number of foreign workers drive up the demand of the limited expatriate-level resources that are available in Indian cities,” Quane continued.
Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore has slipped down the rankings as the price of employing expatriates falls. The average cost of employing an expatriate at a middle manager level of seniority in Singapore is now USD 223,095 which has fallen from USD 235,545.
Quane explained, “Singapore saw one of the most dramatic falls in expatriate costs in Asia, with the average pay package falling USD 12,450 on the result of lower salaries being provided and also a fall in the costs of various benefits. However, despite the drop, Singapore is one of the 20 most expensive countries in terms of the cost of employing expatriate staff, despite the very low personal tax rates.”
Japan is the most expensive location to employ expatriate staff both regionally and globally. Conversely, Malaysia is now the cheapest location where expatriate costs dropped USD 17,188 on average to keep the country rooted to the bottom of the 40-country list*.
“The average cost of employing an expatriate at a middle manager level of seniority in Malaysia is now USD 150,868, less than half than it would cost to send an expatriate to Japan. Due to much cheaper accommodation costs than other Asian neighbours and relatively low levels of tax, Malaysia is bottom of the rankings and the least expensive city included in the rankings,” Quane explained.