The September 2020 cost of living survey was carried out in the face of great obstacles to mobility with travel limited in most countries and much of the world in the middle of a recession. The uncertainty and economic upheaval have influenced prices and exchange rates around the world, affecting the cost of living for international assignees. Many countries have seen low or even negative inflation as many prices have been held down by weak demand; fuel prices have tumbled particularly. While the euro and a few other currencies have strengthened in the face of the economic shock, many other currencies have weakened, particularly those affected by cheaper oil prices or a lack of international travellers.
Use the interactive map below to find out more about how various factors affected indices in the countries where you have assignees. If you require any assistance or would like additional information or data on the 488 locations included in our survey, or need advice regarding currency fluctuations, please get in touch.
With the approval and deployment of a vaccine in some countries there is hope that the end of the pandemic may be in sight. However, before then the pandemic is continuing to cause economic damage around the world which will affect international assignees.
The dramatic fall in international tourism has hit the Seychellois economy hard and the currency has continued to weaken after the survey, falling more than 15% against the US dollar since the September survey. In Surinam, the currency was devalued soon after the survey. This will likely push up inflation further but also make the country much cheaper for visitors with hard currency to spend.
While in Sudan the official exchange rate is pegged to the US dollar, the Sudanese pound continues to fall on the black market, pushing up prices. The government has doubled fuel prices which will raise already very high inflation in the coming months. On the 1 January 2021 Cuba will abandon the so-called convertible peso (CUC), which has been fixed one-to-one against the US dollar for three decades - and with which expatriates will be most familiar - leaving the Cuban peso (CUP) as the sole currency. Its exchange rate will be fixed at USD 1 = CUP 24. This change is expected to push up prices.
Not all the economic uncertainty is caused by the pandemic. Brexit negotiations are once again at a crunch point, more than four years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Depending on how negotiations go in the coming days the UK could crash out of the single market and see tariffs imposed on trade across the Channel or agree a deal to keep some of the benefits of the single market. Whatever the outcome there is likely to be an impact on cost of living as the pound may gain or lose value depending on the result and prices are also expected to rise in the new year especially if there is no trade deal.
In a surprise development the Haitian gourd appreciated by around 80% in late September. Although the gourde has weakened a little since then the stronger currency will make the country much more expensive for visitors and investors and, crucially for the economy, all remittances from abroad will now be worth much less and exports will be less competitive.
With much uncertainty over the economic recovery from the pandemic in the new year it is important to keep track of exchange rate and inflation news that affects your assignees. Subscribe to ECA’s blog and get the latest news directly to your inbox.
ECA’s interim surveys
We are currently undertaking interim surveys for the following countries due to high inflation expectations: Angola, Argentina, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, Surinam, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The results will be available in January 2021.
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ECA publishes cost of living data for 488 cities around the world. It is available from ECA in several forms: as part of a subscription in a calculator which allows you to experiment with different types of index and review the outputs; in reports, providing background detail for specific indices; and as part of the Build-up Calculator for performing balance-sheet calculations. Cost of living data is also pre-populated in ECAEnterprise, our Assignment Management System, and in our Net-to-Net Calculator.