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Foreign firms ‘optimistic’ about prospects in China

Zheng Xin
Updated: Jan 21,2016 8:13 AM     China Daily

A Starbucks outlet in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province. Starbucks Corp is planning to open 500 stores in China this year.[Photo/China Daily]

Most foreign companies remain optimistic about growing in China, according to a new survey from the American Chamber of Commerce.

Its 2016 Business Climate Survey polled almost 500 AmCham China member companies, with 60 percent regarding the country as one of their top three investment destinations, and a quarter their priority market.

“Relative to other developing markets, China is still well-positioned,” said AmCham China Chairman James Zimmerman.

“China remains a top investment priority for more than half of companies as they look to innovation for growth.”

China’s economic slowdown has been ongoing for two years, with both factory output and investment growth failing to fulfill forecasts.

AmCham said its member companies believe a stronger legal framework was necessary to facilitate future business growth.

However, nearly 80 percent of those polled expected the US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty to increase transparency, predictability and fairness of the regulatory environment.

The chamber’s multinational members are as confident in China’s investment and economic outlook as its American members, showing no trace of keeping back their enthusiasm to invest and set up new business.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, optimism in China’s economic outlook and investment by multinationals helped the country attract 781.4 billion yuan ($126.3 billion) in non-financial foreign direct investment in 2015, up 6.4 percent from 2014.

Tang Wenhong, director-general of the ministry’s department of foreign investment administration, has said the world’s top 500 companies have continued to invest and expand their business in the country, reflecting a commitment to China’s economic outlook.

US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc recently pledged a major investment in Guizhou province, as part of a 1.85 billion yuan joint venture to produce server chips for the domestic market.

Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc has also committed 6.3 billion yuan in China, while Starbucks Corp said it is planning to open 500 stores here this year-its largest market outside of the United States-and create 10,000 jobs annually in the country through to 2019.

Forty-six percent of the AmCham member companies said they expect to increase their own headcounts this year.

The survey’s commentary said firms highlighted growth in domestic consumption and the rise of an increasingly large and affluent middle class remained pivotal across a variety of industry sectors, while consumer, technology and R&D-intensive companies also saw significant opportunities in the government’s Internet Plus initiative, and e-commerce.

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