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Shanghai 28th most pricey city

THE strong Chinese currency has helped push Shanghai 83 positions higher to rank as the world's 28th most expensive city for foreign staff, according to a new survey by ECA International.

Beijing advanced 78 notches to become the 26th priciest, and Hong Kong jumped from No. 98 last year to No. 29 this year, the human resources adviser said in a report yesterday.

"The strengthening of Asian currencies is the dominant factor contributing to the region being more expensive for visitors than it was 12 months ago," said Lee Quane, regional director of ECA Asia.

"In that period, the yuan has continued to strengthen against the US dollar. Many Western currencies, including sterling, the euro and the Swiss franc, have weakened. As a result, people coming from these economies into Asia will notice a considerable difference in costs compared with 12 months ago," he said.

Tokyo remains the most expensive location in Asia, due largely to the appreciation of the yen against other major currencies, according to the survey.

The report, conducted twice a year, compares a basket of commonly purchased consumer goods and services in more than 370 locations worldwide.

All the 15 Chinese cities featured in the survey were within Asia's 30 most expensive places for expats to live.

In addition to currency fluctuations, falling inflation in many countries and, in particular, the collapse of gasoline prices from record highs last year, have also affected the cost of living ranking. Price inflation has slowed down in many Asian cities compared with a year ago, but it has fallen more dramatically in many Western countries where economic growth has been lower.

"Whereas Asian economies cushioned their citizens against rising fuel and food costs in 2008 through subsidies and price controls, Western governments did not," Quane said.

"Consequently, the effect of lower prices is being felt more in the West than in many parts of Asia."


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