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Southeast Asia tames wage hikes to keep manufacturing thriving

Economic slowdown and competition with China limit pay raises

A laborer works at a garment factory in Bangkok, where the minimum wage will rise by 1.8% next year.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Southeast Asian countries plan to raise minimum wages more slowly in 2020 as they seek to maintain competitive labor markets against China and weather the fallout from the trade war.

Thailand aims to blunt the impact of pay hikes on industry as the economy slows in light of the U.S.-China trade war while Vietnam wants to ensure its labor costs remain below those of China. Even as workers in those countries clamor for higher pay, the governments are taking pains to keep their manufacturing healthy.

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