Companies confident about future of fast-growing market, says survey
US companies in China remain profitable and optimistic about their growth prospects in one of the world's fastest-growing markets, despite trade tensions and the pandemic, according to a survey released in Washington on Thursday.
The survey conducted by the US-China Business Council in June among 107 US firms operating in China－almost half of all its members－found that 95 percent of the respondents said they made a profit last year, up from 91 percent the previous year.
The companies' long-term confidence in the China market seemed not to have been dented by the strained relations between the two countries, as evidenced partly by the finding that 83 percent of surveyed companies had not moved any segments of their supply chains out of China in the past year.
Of those that did so out of concerns due to uncertainty resulting from US-China tensions, only a fraction (2 percent) moved one or more segments to the United States, according to the annual survey.
In the previous survey, 4 percent of those who were planning to take operations out of the China market intended to return to the US.
"That a relatively small number of companies shifted supply chains speaks to the strength of China's supply-chain ecosystems and to the difficulty of relocating," the survey's report noted, although it cautioned that this may not be the case indefinitely.
Already, 64 percent of the companies saw revenue growth in 2020, and still more－70 percent－of surveyed companies expect their revenue to increase in 2021, bouncing back to pre-COVID-19 pandemic and trade tension levels that were distorted in 2019 and 2020, according to the survey.
It also reported that 78 percent of companies view China's growth prospects as better than other emerging markets.
In line with their strong performance and expected growth prospects, only 6 percent are curtailing investment, while 43 percent of those surveyed plan to increase resource commitments in China over the next year, compared with a quarter of companies that committed to do so in 2020.
Nevertheless, for the fourth consecutive year, companies say their top challenge is the rocky relationship between Washington and Beijing.
Trade tensions have resulted in reputational damage to US firms, lost sales, shifts in suppliers and heightened scrutiny from regulators in both the US and China, according to a news release from the USCBC.
"This speaks to how even though we've seen a change in administration in the United States and the beginnings of an economic recovery, many of the underlying drivers of US-China frictions remain unchanged," USCBC President Craig Allen said at a virtual event about the survey.
"Candid engagement between the two countries is a good start to reestablishing stability, but we need more of it," he said.
Competition with Chinese companies, travel restrictions and data flows also ranked as the top challenges for the companies this year.