• Mon
  • Oct 20, 2014
  • Updated: 9:49pm
NewsHong Kong

It’s now cheaper to send expats to work in Hong Kong than the mainland

As city slips to fourth in global rankings, economists call for rethink on innovation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 5:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 4:16am

Hong Kong needs to rethink its approach to manpower and technological innovation, economists say, after it dropped out of the top three in a global competitiveness survey for the first time in a decade.

The city ranks fourth in the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings 2013 behind Singapore, which it lags in economic performance, higher education, English proficiency and adaptability to challenges.

The annual survey, which Hong Kong topped in 2011 and 2012, divides performance into four major categories - economic performance, infrastructure, government efficiency and business efficiency.

While Hong Kong is still ahead in business efficiency, its people are less open to foreign ideas, have less understanding of economic and social reforms, and do not value the idea of competitiveness as much, the report said.

It loses in a tight race on the economic front, due to a weaker domestic economy.

The Lion City surpasses Hong Kong in English proficiency and the proportion of adults having finished tertiary education. It also spends more on research and development.

Economist Andy Kwan Cheuk-chiu said Hong Kong's lower ranking did not mean a trend of decline. He said other reports such as the authoritative World Economic Forum's sometimes have opposite findings to IMD, but conceded that improvements were needed in R&D and education.

General Chamber of Commerce chief economist David O'Rear said Hong Kong remained competitive in the financial market and as a yuan offshore centre.

A labour shortage had been adding to costs, and the government must look to labour imports, he said. The US and Switzerland filled the top two spots.

Separately, an annual survey by resources consultancy ECA International shows that for the first time in five years it is cheaper for multinational firms to send expatriate staff to Hong Kong than to cities on the mainland.

Mainland cities leapfrogged Hong Kong to become the fourth most expensive place in the Asia-Pacific region for companies to send expat workers.

A middle-ranking manager sent to Hong Kong received benefits worth US$273,000 a year, while one sent to a mainland city received US$274,000.



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This article is now closed to comments

Why all the self-flagellation and negativity? This is ONLY about the expat package!
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Something tells me that Macau might be missing from this list. I doubt the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand (let alone others) out pay the casinos...though the extreme number of foreign staff at junior levels in the business relative to population probably dilute the numbers significantly. In which case this survey is meaningless because it is missing context through categorisation of expats at various levels in the organisation.
Learning to read a map may be more beneficial to the Hong Kong people than fretting about some charts. Economically, working closer with Guangzhou is the way to go.
Hong Kong is self destructing if they want to remain as an "international" city. 30+ years ago HK started doing it right in terms of attracting expat and even local companies. Now between language deficiencies, pollution, racism against ****s (yes that is an issue), and government gridlock, businesses will start to flee. HK will slowly become another backwater Chinese city. If that is what Hong Kongers want, then it's OK. But if they want to keep international businesses here, it is doomed. I have run a small, successful business employing local Hong Kongers for close to 20 years. Eventually I will relocate this business out of Hong Kong because of the deterioration I stated above. Who will lose? Hong Kong...
Totally agree. Considering the same, probably better off setting up,operations in China and only doing banking in HK. Easy to find more highly qualified and internationally orientated staff just across the border in Shenzen. Hard working, hungry & at a fraction of the price...
agree....generally...hongkong teenagers are much less in ambition..
where would you move your biz to I wonder? China? gimme a break!!!
Yes, and China is about to become a market leader in KBO. Over 8 million diversified university graduates per year, extremely highly qualified and all probably more proficient in English than most HK graduates.
More proficient in English ? No, a few , just a few, most of us cann't speak English just like you guys, there is still a big gap here.
I think HK still can play a great role for China mainland in the 30 years, especially in service industries, they are much more professtional than mainland cities.




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