Economic prospects draw British expats to the Far East

There has been a 22% increase in the number of expats working in China and Singapore over the past five years

Economic development and higher salaries are drawing increasing numbers of British expats to the Far East, according to research by NatWest.

The latest NatWest International Personal Banking Quality of Life Index shows the number of British expats working in China and Singapore has increased by 22% over the last five years.

In 2006/7 there were 31,160 expats working in China, which rose to 38,000 in 2010/11, while the number of expats in Singapore has increased from 40,180 to 49,000 over the same period.

The report says Britons are attracted to the Far East by the economic prospects, higher salaries and less burdensome tax regime, while demand for British professional skills is also growing in these countries.

It says that China’s spectacular economic growth over the past three decades has prompted Western multinationals to send their most ambitious executives to the country.

Meanwhile, there has been a 9.9% fall in the number of expats working in the US, from 881,340 in 2006/07 to 794,000 in 2010/11.

Western European countries are also declining in popularity among expats, with the number of British expats working in France falling by 27%, from 285,750 in 2008/09 to 208,590 in 2011/12.

The survey also reveals a significant increase in the number of expats working on temporary assignments. The number of expats working on this basis has risen from 576 in 2007/08 to 774 in 2011/12, an increase of 34.4%.

Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking, said: “These shifts reflect the changing global environment we live in. As businesses expand their operations into foreign markets, they have to be able to identify executives who can move seamlessly between markets and cultures.

“It is interesting to see the numbers of people working on temporary assignments abroad has increased over the five-year period, indicating a shift in the traditional sense of working abroad. Expats are making working abroad fit with lifestyles."

The analysis shows that 5.6% of the British population lives abroad, but this figure more than doubles to 12.2% among the highly skilled proportion of the working population. More than 30% of expats earn salaries in excess of £100,000 a year.

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