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Hong Kong is world’s most expensive city, again

A cup of coffee for US $ 5.21, a litre of petrol at US $ 3.04 and one-kg tomato going for US $11.51.  No wonder, Hong Kong has once again been named as the world’s most expensive city for 2022 in a list that has several Asian metros among the top 10.

The list prepared by US-based global mobility company ECA International has taken into account several parameters for calculating the cost of living, such as average prices of household staples like milk or cooking oil, petrol, public transport, rent, utilities and the strength of the local currency.

It’s the third year in a row that Hong Kong, the bustling city-state outside mainland China, has topped the list. New York and Geneva have been placed second and third in the rankings.

The ECA International’s index was prepared for expats and foreign workers.

Other most expensive cities on the list from the fourth position onwards are London, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Zurich, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Seoul. 

High inflation has pushed New York and London up the rankings to second and fourth respectively.

“Although Hong Kong has been impacted by rising global inflation less than other regional and global locations in the past year, it nonetheless remains the most expensive location in the world,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. 

The year-on-year price rise of three percent, which is measured by the company basket of goods and services, is higher than typically seen in Hong Kong. 

“Rather, it has been the strength of the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar, in the past year which has enabled it to maintain its position as the most expensive location worldwide as other currencies have weakened,” Quane said.

Asia: the most expensive continent

Along with Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Seoul are among the top ten most expensive cities across the world.

Many mainland Chinese cities have become more expensive compared to the past as four cities are now included in the 15 most expensive cities globally. Shanghai is also now the third most expensive city in Asia after Hong Kong and Tokyo. 

“The main reason for their (the mainland Chinese cities) rise in the rankings has been the continued strength of the Chinese yuan against other major currencies.”

Many cities across Asia have witnessed above-trend rates in inflation over the year as Colombo in Sri Lanka has seen the fastest rate of price growth in the past 12 months, causing it to rise 23 places in ECA’s rankings to 149 globally.

“Shortages of supplies for some essential items prompted by lack of foreign currency have resulted in price increases of more than 15 percent at the time of the survey when compared to the previous year,” said Quane. 

Protests, which arose in response to the higher prices, have led to the resignations of leading Sri Lankan government figures, most notably the prime minister of the country,” he added.

Global highlights

Many locations within the European Union have seen drops in the ECA’s rankings due to an unsteady period for euro, with Paris falling out of the global top 30 and cities such as Madrid, Brussels and Rome all falling too.

Quane said, “Nearly every major Eurozone city saw a drop in the rankings this year as the euro performed worse in the last 12 months than the US dollar and British pound. The euro’s weakness was mainly caused by market expectations of the ECB raising interest rates more slowly than its peers.”

Moscow is down one place to 62nd in the rankings, while St Petersburg is unchanged at 147th.

“At the time of the survey, the rouble had plunged in value as economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine shook confidence in the economy. The sanctions and weaker currency helped push up inflation which counteracted the exchange rate losses, leaving the country stable in the overall ranking,” Quane added.

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