Hong Kong back on top as most expensive city in Mercer 2018 index

03 July 2018 Consultancy.asia

Hong Kong has reclaimed its unwelcome title as the world’s most expensive city for expats in Mercer’s latest global cost of living survey, with a host of Asian cities dominating the pointy end of the annual index.

After losing its title to Luanda in Angola last year, Hong Kong has once again been ranked as the most expensive city in the world for expats according to Mercer’s annual global cost of living survey, with the city reclaiming its position at the head of the table from 2016. Another seven Asian cities featured among the top 15, with Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul all in the top five.

While Asian cities have long featured among the most expensive, there is an increasing concentration at the top of the list, driven in part by rising costs in mainland China. All of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou are now crowded in the top 15 biggest burdens on the hip-pocket for expatriate employees, with a further five Chinese cities in the top 40 worldwide. One decade ago there were just two – Beijing and Shanghai – with neither inside of the top 20.

Yet, with the survey pegged to the US dollar, and adopting New York as a baseline, international currency fluctuations can have a high degree of impact on the annual index – an index designed to aid private and public agencies determine appropriate remuneration packages to attract international employees; in a technologically advanced and globally connected workforce, a ‘key component of a multinational’s business strategy’, according to Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career practice.Hong Kong ranked most expensive city for expats in 2018 cost of living survey“Stronger Chinese monetary regulation, a flourishing economy and a push to have the Chinese Yuan as an international currency pushed Chinese cities up in the ranking,” said Yvonne Traber, Mercer’s Global Mobility Product Solutions Leader, adding that it wasn’t all budgetary gloom for expats based in Asia. “However, significant surges in other locations worldwide caused Japanese cities, Osaka [23rd] and Nagoya [41st] in particular, to fall in this year’s ranking.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s rebound to the top of the list, from second last year, was on the back of soaring rental costs – along with currency movements, the most decisive factor among the 200-plus lifestyle items measured by the Mercer survey (with the city fairing reasonably well compared to its global counterparts for the cost of a happy meal) – and the comparative currency-deflated drop in rentals for expats in Luanda. As a comparison, a two-bedroom flat of international standard currently goes for roughly $7,670 p/m in Hong Kong against $5,700 in New York City.

Peter Chan, a Principal and talent consultant with Mercer in Hong Kong, says that the high cost of living in the city doesn’t however necessarily discourage expats from coming. “The cost of living is only one of the many factors that global talents consider when they decide working location. They also look at how safe the city is, quality of living and career opportunities.” In Mercer’s other comprehensive global survey – the quality of living index – Hong Kong ranked 71st globally, but was the second non-Japanese Asian city on the list following Singapore.

On the other side of the ledger, the city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan was deemed the least expensive for expats among the 400 or so locations measured, with Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan’s Karachi not far behind – all featuring in the bottom five of international wallet-drains, with Tashkent in at 209th as the most affordable expat centre on the planet ( a decent standard of accommodation in the central Asian city is pegged at about $270 per month). Tashkent, however, also currently ranks unfortunately down in at 203rd on Mercer’s quality of living index.

South Korea the global 5G leader on Arthur D. Little maturity index

29 March 2019 Consultancy.asia

South Korea has been identified as the clear global leader in the deployment of 5G in an analysis conducted by management consultancy Arthur D. Little.

“5G will soon become widely available – and first movers have a significant lead.” So begins Arthur D. Little’s Global 5G Leadership Index report, with South Korea not just identified as a first mover, but a clear runaway leader – ahead of other strong performers the US, Australia and Qatar. From a regional perspective, the Asia Pacific was also considered the most advanced.

Benchmarking more than 40 countries across the globe, the analysis considered the maturity of each country’s 5G deployment against two dimensions – the development of infrastructure and levels of commercialisation – with South Korea leading in both, its 5G spectrum already allocated and its large mobile operators having since rolled out their networks across considerable areas.

South Korea was in a group of only eight 5G ‘leaders’ worldwide, joined by Switzerland, Finland, Spain and the UAE together with the US, Australia and Qatar, while Japan and Singapore lead the ‘followers’ group – with both countries assessed as very advanced in terms of technology adoption, 5G trials and infrastructure availability, but hampered by their lack of 5G spectrum allocation.South Korea the global 5G leader on Arthur D. Little maturity index“All leading countries have in common that they have already allocated 5G spectrum,” state the authors of the report. “These countries have enabled operators to roll out 5G networks quickly, many commercially, in 2018, and to trial use cases successfully. Markets with high-performance backhaul infrastructure rate higher, as this capability allows them to roll out 5G faster.”

“Additionally, the leading markets demonstrate high willingness to adopt new services supported by high 4G usage and fiber take-up, as well as several competitors to foster fast 5G roll-out. Overall, they do not face any major limitations, be these in terms of infrastructure, regulation, market demand for 5G applications, economic strength, or competitive dynamics.”

Elsewhere in Asia, China and Hong Kong were also among the ‘followers’ – respectively scoring a 6.4 and 6.1 rating on the index (compared to 8.8 out of 10 for South Korea), while the Philippines was assessed as a ‘5G laggard’, ranking last overall of the 43 countries analysed with a rating of just 3.4. Other table dwellers included Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and Bulgaria.

“5G is the first mobile network generation which promises the data throughput, latency, and flexibility to enable the next level of digitisation across consumer types,” said Karim Taga, Arthur D. Little’s global Telecommunications, Information Technology, Media & Electronics (TIME) practice leader. “Future business competitiveness will rely on 5G networks, making their fast deployment essential.”

5G skeptics

Meanwhile, the global leader of Accenture’s network practice, George Nazi, has been moved to respond to the lingering skepticism from the business community toward 5G network technology – with a survey of 1,800 executives finding that more than half thought it would be of little advantage over 4G. “The reality is that 5G will bring a major wave of connectivity that opens new dimensions for innovation and commercial and economic development,” Nazi said.

Nazi pointed to breakthroughs in three-dimensional video, smart-city infrastructure, autonomous cars and immersive television as examples which will unleash transformative opportunities that are still difficult to imagine today, noting that if companies fail to plan for 5G now they could well miss out on such opportunities. "Telecommunications companies will play a pivotal role in bringing these prospects to light."