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Average cost of hiring an expatriate in Singapore fell in 2017: poll

THE average cost of employing an expatriate in Singapore has shrunk by over US$12,000 compared to the year before.

This brings the value of a typical annual compensation and benefits package for an expatriate middle-manager in Singapore to US$223,095 in 2017, from US$235,545 in 2016.

This was one of the findings of the latest MyExpatriate Market Pay survey published annually by ECA International, an information and software provider in the management and assignment of employees around the world.

ECA International regional director for Asia Lee Quane noted that this marked one of the most dramatic falls in expatriate costs in Asia.

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"However, Singapore remains one of the 20 most expensive countries in terms of the cost of employing expatriate staff, despite having very low personal tax rates," he added.

Malaysia saw an even bigger drop of US$17,188 to the average expatriate pay package, keeping it at the bottom of the 40-country list.

This brings the average cost of employing an expatriate at a middle-manager level in Malaysia to US$150,868, less than half of what it would cost to send an expatriate to Japan.

"As Malaysia has much cheaper accommodation costs than its Asian neighbours and relatively low levels of tax, the country sits at the bottom of the rankings as the least expensive city included in the rankings," Mr Quane explained.

Elsewhere in Asia, expatriate pay packages in Hong Kong rose in 2017, after previously hitting a five-year low in 2016. The value of a typical expatriate pay package in Hong Kong is now US$268,514, up slightly by US$3,027.

In contrast, the average pay package of expatriates in China has dropped by around US$6,000 to US$276,387, as the gap continues to narrow between expatriates in Hong Kong and those on the mainland.

Mr Quane explained that this is a result of exchange rate movements as the Hong Kong dollar strengthened against the Chinese yuan. China still ranks higher and is the fourth most expensive country in the world for a company to employ expatriates.

In Europe, the UK has become significantly cheaper for companies to send staff to from abroad, slipping behind Japan in the rankings, given the weakness in the pound sterling. The total expatriate pay package in the UK stood at US$344,508, below Japan's US$356,224 last year.