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U.S. businesses not leaving China market despite strained ties: survey

(Xinhua)    13:19, August 12, 2020

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. businesses are not leaving the Chinese market despite "an unprecedented downturn" in U.S.-China relations during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an annual member survey released Tuesday by the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC).

"Both our data as well as conversations with member companies indicate that American companies remain committed to the China market over the long term," said the survey.

The USCBC is a trade group representing more than 200 U.S. companies that do business with China.

Up to 83 percent of companies counted China as either the top or among the top five priorities for their company's global strategy, showed the survey, which was conducted in late May and June among more than 100 USCBC member companies.

Projections about the five-year business outlook in China are similarly sanguine, with nearly 70 percent expressing that they are optimistic about the commercial prospects of the market, according to the survey.

In addition, 91 percent companies indicate their China operations are profitable, albeit at a lower margin than in years past, the survey showed, noting that the primary restraint on profitability is COVID-19 and its impact on the economy.

As a result of this long-term confidence in the China market, 87 percent companies reported no plans to shift production out of China, the survey noted, adding that some companies are seeking potential new investment.

One quarter of USCBC member companies, however, reduced or stopped planned investment in China in the last year, the survey showed, with the top reasons being increased costs, uncertainties from U.S.-China trade tensions, and uncertainty stemming from COVID-19.

The annual survey also noted that the U.S.-China relationship poses the top challenge for U.S. companies in China for the third consecutive year, as 86 percent USCBC members report that bilateral trade tensions have impacted their business with China.

"U.S.-China trade and investment supports about 2.6 million American jobs," said USCBC President Craig Allen. "We need to sustain and grow those jobs in future years, while finding ways to reduce conflict in other areas of the relationship."

While business uncertainty remains high across the board, the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement provided "a modicum of confidence" in the China investment environment by "freezing additional tariff increases and stabilizing the overall commercial relationship," according to the survey.

Some 88 percent respondents have a positive or somewhat positive view of the agreement, the survey showed.

"Companies are now seeing the fruits of the agreement, particularly the market openings," said Allen. "Phase One must be a success if we are to deepen trade negotiations and work toward a Phase Two. As our survey shows us, there is more work to be done."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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