U.S. business optimism in China hits three-year highs

23 Sep 2021

U.S. businesses’ optimism regarding business conditions in China has reached three-year highs, despite concerns about the country’s coronavirus policy, according to an annual poll published on Thursday.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai carried out the survey along with PwC China. The fresh optimism is down to increasing revenues as well as fears beginning to wane over the pandemic due to the zero-tolerance policy, Reuters reports.

Relations between the United States and China hit rock bottom in 2019 as former President Trump initiated a trade war and imposed sanctions on some of China’s major tech firms. 

However, the Biden administration has been more reserved over taking direct action against Beijing, yet relations are still fraught. 

“Business in China recovered quickly from last year’s lockdown," stated Ker Gibbs, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. 

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

Out of the 338 firms that took part in the poll, 78% said they were "optimistic or slightly optimistic" about the five-year outlook, a 20% rise over 2020, and back to 2018 levels, according to the survey’s findings. 

Whereas 10% defined themselves as "pessimistic" about their five-year outlook, compared to 18% last year and 21% in 2019. 

However, businesses showed misgivings in relation to certain Chinese policies in the wake of the pandemic, particularly relating to hiring. 

Around two-thirds of respondents stated they are planning to increase their number of employees in China in 2021, a 31.4% rise over last year. Yet 62.3% said employee availability was a hindrance or a serious hindrance to operations. 

The survey was carried out between mid-June and mid-July.