Business group urges more sustainable economic relationship, eased frictions
Most companies from the United States with operations in China said they have continued to see their revenues grow in China and urge governments on both sides to foster more sustainable economic ties, according to an annual survey published on Tuesday by the American Chamber of Commerce in China.
Despite trade tensions, the questionnaire — The 2019 China Business Climate Survey Report — stressed that China remains a high priority market for the majority of U.S. companies surveyed.
The survey also found that Sino-U.S. trade tensions played a large role in turning the overall outlook for U.S. companies surveyed from cautious optimism to cautious pessimism.
The chamber's members have been very clear on actions that should be taken by the Chinese and U.S. governments to foster more sustainable economic ties between the two countries, said Tim Stratford, chairman of AmCham China, whose membership comprises more than 3,300 individuals from 900 companies operating across China.
The survey was conducted between Nov 13 and Dec 16. It was sent to 771 AmCham China member company representatives, of which 314 completed most of the questions.
As China and the U.S. made progress in the latest round of trade talks in Washington last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday that the two countries will continue to push for mutually beneficial results.
This is a confirmation of the trust and goodwill that have been engendered and it bodes favorably for win-win outcomes in the weeks — if not days — ahead, said Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington.
Kevin Li, a Deloitte partner, added that finding a comprehensive and enduring resolution of the current trade frictions is critical to creating a more positive, predictable environment for companies, which in turn will benefit the citizens of both countries and the world as a whole.
In addition to big-ticket investment made by U.S. companies such as Exxon-Mobil Corp, Tesla Inc and Cargill Inc in China last year, U.S. investment in China more than doubled in January, an indication that the two countries may reach a deal to prevent wider trade friction.
Total foreign direct investment in China last month rose by 2.8 percent year-on-year to $12.41 billion, while investment from the U.S. grew by 124.6 percent, said the Ministry of Commerce.
As China has taken fresh measures, including introducing new foreign investment laws to better protect the interests of non-Chinese firms and offer more access to foreign enterprises in a number of sectors, the survey said China remains an important market for most U.S. companies responding to the questionnaire. More than 80 percent of member companies surveyed said they expected positive industry growth in China in 2019.
Gong Jiong, an economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics, said if China and the U.S. can settle their trade disputes through dialogue, China's measures to unleash its domestic consumption potential will continue to attract foreign companies to invest in the country.