Facing Uncertainty, European Companies in China Find Themselves Navigating in the Dark Go back »

2020-06-10 | All chapters

Facing Uncertainty, European Companies in China Find Themselves Navigating in the Dark

Beijing, 10th June 2020 – The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, in cooperation with Roland Berger, today released its European Business in China Business Confidence Survey 2020 (BCS). At a time when China-based European companies find themselves navigating in the dark due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the results of the BCS offer the Chinese Government areas to clearly focus their reform efforts in order to bring about quicker economic recovery and restore business sentiment.

Many of the initial findings of the survey, conducted in February 2020, painted an outlook that no longer accurately represent the views of the vast majority of member companies that have endured a tumultuous first half of the year. However, financial reporting for 2019 still showed significant downward trends. This is seen especially in the logistics, chemicals and petroleum, construction and automotive industries, which have the highest share of respondents reporting negative growth. Additionally, China’s limited and selective opening-up agenda only saw modest progress, with reforms inching forward.

  • In 2019, 41% of companies reported at least some market opening. However, most advances were related to the fixing of minor issues, rather than the deep and substantial reforms needed to create a truly open, fair and competitive playing field.
  • Almost half of respondents continue to face market access barriers: 15% report facing mainly direct obstacles, like the negative lists; twice as many report indirect hurdles such as opaque licensing procedures and other complicated administrative approvals.
  • Doing business in China has become more difficult over the past year for 49% of members, a four-percentage point decrease from 2019 – a marginal improvement.

It is concerning that half of BCS respondents believe state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will gain opportunities at the expense of the private sector in 2020, which is up seven percentage points on the previous year. The COVID-19 outbreak looks likely to further exacerbate this problem with the government now turning to SOEs as a source of stability in uncertain times.

Insufficient liberalisation of the Chinese market has seen China move towards a ‘one economy, two systems’ model: on one side, market forces are becoming more decisive and modern regulatory mechanisms look increasingly international on the other, critical sectors of the economy are dominated by state-owned national champions, with private enterprises being stifled or forced out of the market entirely.

“China now has the strength and experience to become a leading force in a global recovery, but this brings with it a significant responsibility,” said Charlotte Roule, vice president of the European Chamber. “Domestic market reforms have never been more necessary, and collaboration with the global community is urgently needed to upgrade and strengthen the rules-based order, guided by the principles of reciprocity.”

“Despite the difficult global environment and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, European companies overall remain strongly committed to China, which remains a top three investment destination for 63% of respondents," said Denis Depoux, Global Managing Director of Roland Berger. "European companies are increasingly in China for China, both to meet growing domestic demand and to tap into its innovative ecosystem."

About the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China

The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (European Chamber) was founded in 2000 by 51 member companies that shared a goal of establishing a common voice for the various business sectors of the European Union and European businesses operating in China. It is a members-driven, non-profit, fee-based organisation with a core structure of 31 working groups and fora representing European business in China. The European Chamber is recognised by the European Commission and the Chinese authorities as the official voice of European business in China.

About Roland Berger

Roland Berger is an independent company founded in 1967. Roland Berger remains the only leading global consultancy firm with non-Anglo-Saxon roots. We are German by origin, European by nature and global by ambition, including a strong footprint in Asia. Our entrepreneurial spirit has shaped our growth and fuelled our outstanding achievements since the early days of the firm. In short, being a game changer is in our DNA. With over 50 years of continuous growth behind us and 2,400 employees working in 35 countries, we are one of the leading players in global top-management consulting and have successful operations in all major international markets.

Download the report here.





  • 有41%的受访企业表示在2019年注意到了一定的市场开放。然而,大多数进展集中在解决表面问题,仍缺乏为建立真正开放,公平竞争的环境所进行的深刻、实质性改革
  • 近半数的受访者仍然面临市场准入的阻碍:15%的受访者表示面临着直接障碍,例如市场准入负面清单;30%的受访者表示面临着行政许可程序不透明及复杂、冗长的行政审批程序等间接障碍;
  • 49%的受访会员表示其过去一年在华开展业务变得更为困难,这一数据相较去年有所改善,同比下降4%;



“中国拥有成为领导全球复苏的实力和经验,不过这也代表着巨大的责任。” 中国欧盟商会副主席夏澜女士表示,“国内的市场改革从未如此必要;于此同时,基于对等原则,为进一步加强和升级基于规则的国际秩序,当下中国与国际社会的紧密合作是迫切需要的。 

 “尽管新冠疫情的爆发造成了艰难的全球环境和巨大的不确定性,但欧洲公司总体上仍坚定致力于中国发展, 63%受访者表示中国仍然其前三大投资目的地。”罗兰贝格全球管理委员会联席总裁戴璞先生表示,“欧洲公司‘在中国,为中国’,这既可以满足日益增长的国内需求,也可以更好地利用国内创新的产业生态系统。”






罗兰贝格是一家由合伙人所有的独立机构,合伙人负责掌控公司整体业绩与商业表现。公司成立于1967年,是全球领先的咨询公司中唯一一家德国公司。我们起源于德国,秉承欧洲文化,在全球范围内发展壮大,其中包括亚洲和我们深切相信能够形成影响力的其他地区。我们力求在咨询与商业领域中与众不同的视角。如今,我们仍勇于挑战普遍的思考模式,为客户提供管理商业颠覆性变革与转型的全新解决方案。公司建立伊始,企业家精神即造就了我们的成长历程,并鼓舞我们取得了卓越的成就。我们的变革精神深植于我们的 DNA 中。50多年来,我们持续发展,2400 余员工遍布 35 个国家和地区,跻身全球顶级管理咨询公司之列,业务遍及所有主要国际市场。

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