21 July 2018
Political stability and social environment are important factors affecting executives' decision to relocate to or from Hong Kong. Photo: AFP
Political stability and social environment are important factors affecting executives' decision to relocate to or from Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

More executives leaving HK than those coming in: report

The number of multinational company executives who relocated out of Hong Kong last year is two times more than those who moved in, according to a report by US-based UniGroup Relocation.

The top three destinations, for those leaving the city, were the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom. 

For those who relocated to Hong Kong, the top countries of origin were the US, Singapore and China, the report said.

UniGroup’s study was based on data collected through its relocation business in nearly 180 countries. The company manages about 260,000 moves annually. Over ninety percent of its clients are organizations, especially the large multinational institutions.

In Hong Kong, relocations in and out of the city last year mainly involved executives in the finance and legal industries, Steve Lewis, managing director of the company’s Asia Pacific business, told EJ Insight.

Why are there more executives moving out of Hong Kong than coming in?

Aside from their perception of the city’s economic growth, the stability of the political and social environment is another important factor that affected the executives’ decision to relocate, Quan Heng, a research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying in the report.

Heng said the strong recovery of US economy and Singapore’s stable environment have attracted more Hong Kong residents to move there. Executive moves between the US, Hong Kong and Singapore also indicate the close relationship and cooperation of multinational companies in the three regions.

A similar trend can be seen in mainland China, according to UniGroup report. Those who relocated from China were thrice the number of those who moved to the country.

One important sector that used to relocate a lot of executives to China is the manufacturing industry.

But nowadays, as labor costs in China increase and neighboring countries intensify the competition for jobs, more executive relocate to Southeast Asia countries, Lewis said.

On the other hand, more executives have been assigned to China in recent years in the hospitality and pharmaceutical sectors, he added.

The Netherlands, Finland and Sweden were among the top destinations of executives who relocated from China last year. Lewis said this could be attributed to increased business activities in the telecommunications or oil industries between China and countries in northern Europe.

The number of executives moved between the US and China decreased 21.1 percent on a yearly basis last year, compared with a 2.6 percent increase seen in 2013 and a 21.3 percent drop in 2012.

The number of people who moved from the US to China dropped 22 percent in 2014, most probably due to the slowing Chinese economy, the report said, citing Michael Stoll, professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Top countries/regions of origin to Hong Kong

1. United States

2. Singapore

3. China

4. Australia

5. South Korea

6. Netherland

7. France

8. Taiwan

9. United Kingdom

10. India

Top destination countries/regions from Hong Kong

1. United States

2. Singapore

3. United Kingdom

4. Canada

5. Australia

6. China

7. Japan

8. France

9. The Philippines

10. Taiwan

Top countries/regions of origin to China

1. United States

2. Hong Kong

3. Netherlands

4. Singapore

5. Sweden

6. Germany

7. United kingdom

8. Taiwan

9. South korea

10. Australia

Top destination countries/regions from China

1. United States

2. Germany

3. Singapore

4. France

5. United kingdom

6. Hong Kong

7. Netherlands

8. Finland

9. Sweden

10. Malaysia

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EJ Insight reporter

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