Home Trade industry US business optimism in China returns to pre-trade war levels – survey

US business optimism in China returns to pre-trade war levels – survey

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People walk past an office in the central business district (CBD) of Beijing, China, July 13, 2021. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang

SHANGHAI, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – U.S. business optimism about business conditions in China has recovered to three-year highs, even as businesses have reservations about Beijing’s COVID-19 policy, a revealed Thursday an annual survey.

Beijing’s large-scale crackdown on businesses has also pissed off U.S. businesses, an official in the U.S. industry lobby said.

The Shanghai American Chamber of Commerce, which led the investigation with consulting firm PwC China, attributed the renewed optimism to rising revenues as well as declining concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic in China. , which largely controlled its spread with a zero-. policy of tolerance.

U.S.-China relations hit a low point in 2019 under the Trump administration, which launched a deadly trade war with China and also imposed sanctions on some of China’s top tech companies.

The Biden administration, however, has shown more reluctance to take direct action against Beijing, although relations remain strained.

“Business in China has recovered quickly from last year’s shutdown,” said Ker Gibbs, president of the US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, which released the survey conducted between mid-June and mid-June. July.

“However, we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic, with members continuing to be negatively impacted by China’s travel restrictions. Overall business performance is good but there are signs of nervousness.”

Of the 338 companies surveyed, 78% described themselves as “optimistic or slightly optimistic” about their five-year business outlook in 2021, nearly 20 percentage points more than in 2020 and a return to 2018 levels, according to the survey.

In contrast, in 2021, 10% of companies surveyed described themselves as “pessimistic” about their five-year outlook, compared to 18% and 21% of companies surveyed in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

But companies have expressed reservations about some Chinese policies in the aftermath of COVID-19, especially when it comes to hiring labor, according to the survey.

About two-thirds of respondents said they plan to increase their workforce in China this year, an increase of 31.4 percentage points from 2020, but 62.3% of respondents described availability. labor force as a serious obstacle or impediment to operations.

China’s borders have remained closed to most visitors without proper work and residence permits, and all entrants must undergo at least two weeks of quarantine upon arrival.

Companies also reported a slight decline in policy transparency. In 2021, 46.7% of respondents qualified the regulatory environment as transparent, up from 51.4% the previous year.

The numbers come amid a year of continued regulatory tightening by Chinese authorities targeting a range of sectors, as well as the implementation of new laws governing privacy and data security.

“Further hampering our members, many regulatory changes were enacted after our investigation was closed. While well-intentioned, they were announced with little to no warning, which left businesses unsettled, ”added Gibbs.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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