The New Normal’s wider impact – Changing times in Asia Pacific?

Dipping demand for commodities is meaning retrenchment and redeployment for many destinations across the Asia Pacific region as it responds to China’s ‘New Normal’. Ruth Holmes reports, with a special focus on Indonesia.

There’s no doubt about it: Asia Pacific is a relocation hotspot. Whether it is the volume of inbound and outbound assignees to and from China, rotational, developmental or project-led assignments, APAC is where it’s at.

Cartus’s latest survey of the top international destinations for its North American clients, published earlier this year, found that four of the top ten locations were in the region. China is the third-most-likely destination for US assignees, behind the UK and Canada, followed by India (4), Singapore (5) and Australia (10).

APAC is also home to three of the world’s top ten most competitive economies – Singapore (2), Japan (6) and Hong Kong (7) – according to the World Economic Forum’s latest annual Global Competitiveness report. With such global impact and regional partnerships, Asia Pacific’s destiny as the new economic axis still looks set to be met, despite the headwinds.

Homeward bound?

While the impact of outbound assignments from China is one of the key trends driving mobility across the region and beyond, traditional APAC destinations, particularly those linked to the oil, gas and mining sectors, are struggling in the wake of China’s slowdown.

Hong-Kong-based Robert Wyatt, vice-president of client services and administration at TheMIGroup, notes a pick-up in repatriations, along with more local hires and localisation in the region. “This is, of course, based on TheMIGroup’s client base [oil and gas, shipping and construction]. There has also been a vast drop in volume from Australia due to the Chinese economy, where the shipment of commodities to China has dropped by about 70 per cent.”