The Asia-Pacific area is huge and includes many countries. We are focusing on the 2 most popular ones for South African accountants at the moment, i.e. Singapore and Hong Kong. India, China, Taiwan and Indonesia are all experiencing huge growth at the moment and there are off course huge opportunities in these countries as well, but we focus on Singapore and Hong Kong as they are the most accessible to South African based on culture and opportunities. Australia is featured separately here.
The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, and most business-friendly. The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Singapore as the second freest economy in the world, behind Hong Kong. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. The country is the world’s fourth leading financial centre, the world’s second-biggest casino gambling market, one of the world’s top three oil refining centres, the world’s largest oil-rig producer, and a major ship-repairer. The port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. The World Bank has named Singapore as the easiest place in the world to do business and ranks Singapore the world’s top logistics hub. It is also the world’s fourth largest foreign-exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo. There are therefore various opportunities available to CA’s across different industries (the easiest to secure being in finance).
As an ex British colony, the culture is diverse but westernised. English is the common language of the nation and is the language of business, government and medium of instruction in schools. Foreigners also make up 42% of the population and have a strong influence on Singaporean culture.
The cost of living in Singapore is amongst the highest in Asia (for example, a 3 bedroom apartment in the city would cost you around $4000 per month), but this should come as no surprise as Singapore offers state-of-the art facilities for education, shopping, sports and recreation just like western countries. Prices of food and clothing are reasonable and the living conditions are among the best in Asia as the inflation rate is comparatively lower than most other countries.
Immigration regulations are similar to other overseas locations, in that only holders of a valid Employment Pass may work in Singapore, which needs to be sponsored by an employer. It applies to foreigners who earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $3,000, and have acceptable qualifications. There are four types of Employment Passes (P1, P2, Q1 and S) – refer to mom.gov.sg below for more detail.
Hong Kong is another ex British colony, and is one of two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Macau.
As one of the world’s leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and the currency, the Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world. The lack of space caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the city to a centre for modern architecture and the world’s most vertical city. Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita income in the world. Apart from the huge finance industry it is the world’s largest re-export centre. Much of Hong Kong’s exports consist of re-exports, which are products made outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Its physical location has allowed the city to establish a transportation and logistics infrastructure that includes the world’s second busiest container port and the world’s busiest airport for international cargo.
Like Singapore the cost of living is high (as of 2010, Hong Kong is the eighth most expensive city for expatriates). Salary rates are generally good though with the added bonus of a flat tax rate of 15%. Hong Kong is ranked fourth in terms of the highest percentage of millionaire households, behind Switzerland, Qatar, and Singapore with 8.5 percent of all households owning at least one million US dollars.
As with Singapore, to work in Hong Kong, you will need to be sponsored by an employer, unless you are already a citizen.
Have you ever lived and worked in Asia or have friends/ family that live there? Are there any other Asian locations you think is worth featuring as a destinations for accountants? Share your thoughts!