US firms confident over more opening-up
American companies in China are enjoying growing sales and are more confident China will further open up to foreign investment in coming years, despite concerns about the regulatory environment, a business lobby said yesterday.
Some 64 percent of the member companies reported revenue growth in 2017, up from 58 percent in 2016 and 55 percent in 2015, according to a survey released yesterday by the American Chamber of Commerce in China in partnership with Bain & Co.
Those figures reflect China’s booming economy which last year grew 6.9 percent, accelerating for the first time since 2010. For 2018, the average forecast for GDP growth from respondents was 6.3 percent, up from the 2017 prediction.
The survey was conducted in October and November, and was sent to 849 member company representatives, of which 411 completed a significant portion.
The outlook on sustainable economic growth in China was “generally positive,” with 46 percent of respondents expressing confidence that the government would further open China’s market to foreign investment within the next three years, up from 34 percent in the previous survey.
Nearly six in 10 companies rank China among their top three investment priorities, up from the previous year but still below the historical average.
“Regarding the economy, there is cautious optimism that the ‘new normal’ rate of growth is sustainable for the foreseeable future, providing opportunities for business to expand,” said William Zarit, chairman of AmCham China.
A third of members plan to expand their investment in China by over 10 percent in 2018.
Asked about the report, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China’s door would only open wider and the government would provide an even better investment environment for foreigners.
Some 36 percent of respondents believe relations between China and the United States will improve this year, compared with 17 percent last year.
After US President Donald Trump’s visit in November, China announced it would liberalize foreign investment access to its financial services market, a key industry for American firms worldwide.
Regulation remains a concern for many, the survey found. Respondents cited inconsistent regulatory interpretation, unclear laws and enforcement as the top challenge to doing business in China.