January 30, 2014 12:00 am JST

The wages of growth

As wages climb in China and Southeast Asia, so too do costs for the many global companies operating there. Businesses are responding by seeking out cheaper production sites. But their relocation options are dwindling as more countries boost pay levels to prevent labor unrest from metastasizing into political instability. Investment booms in Myanmar and Cambodia mean even these "frontier" markets do not necessarily offer big savings. Is the strategy of chasing the lowest costs reaching its limit? And if so, what does that portend for the region's status as the world's factory?