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2021-06-08 | All chapters

European Companies in China Navigate COVID-19, More Perilous Waters Lie Ahead

Beijing, 8th June 2021 – The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, in cooperation with Roland Berger, today released its European Business in China Business Confidence Survey 2021 (BCS). The annual survey was completed by 585 European Chamber member companies, answering questions about 2020 performance, as well as future outlooks.

Key findings

Prospects, last year, seemed quite gloomy: an early 2020 survey, conducted jointly by the European Chamber and the German Chamber of Commerce in China, found that half of respondents expected 2020 revenue to drop year-on-year (y-o-y), and a mere 0.5% anticipated revenue growth. In fact, only a quarter of respondents to the BCS 2021 reported revenue declines and 42% experienced growth. Strong performance was indicated in other areas as well:

  • Three out of four respondents turned a profit in 2020, the same proportion as the last five years, demonstrating that even in challenging times, European companies adapted and found success.
  • 68% are optimistic about future growth, a significant 20 percentage point increase y-o-y.
  • Commitment to the China market remains strong – a mere 9% of respondents are considering shifting any current or planned investment out of China, the lowest share on record.

Yet, as geopolitical tensions grow, companies are looking for ways to decrease their exposure, particularly to possible cross-border disruptions resulting from either the trade war or the ongoing technological divergence between China and the west.

  • Only 21% of manufacturers reported that they do not import critical components. Meanwhile, a third import components or equipment for which there are no viable alternatives. The rest can find other solutions, but at higher costs, lower quality and/or with compatibility issues.
  • In response, over a quarter of manufacturers are onshoring at least some of their supply chains, five times as many as are offshoring.
  • European companies in joint ventures with local partners are strengthening their positions, with 27% increasing their shares, and two thirds are taking full ownership or a controlling share.

Meanwhile, as China’s reform agenda continues to lag, and external risks surge, it is imperative that reform efforts accelerate and long-standing regulatory challenges are resolved to offset emerging ones.

  • Market access barriers are reported by 45% of members, a marginal increase from the 44% that felt the same in 2020.
  • Unequal treatment persists for 47% of respondents.
  • SOE reform appears to have stalled, with only 15% of respondents expecting the private sector to gain opportunities at the expense of the state-owned sector, and 48% expecting the opposite.
  • Compelled technology transfers persisted for 16% of respondents, the same as 2020 despite the Foreign Investment Law coming into force.
  • A third of respondents have been negatively impacted by the new regulatory requirements related to “critical information infrastructure” and “autonomous and controllable technology”.

“Our members’ long-term commitment to the China market paid dividends in 2020, but geopolitical tensions are forcing us to reconsider our strategies here,” said Charlotte Roule, Board Member of the European Chamber. “European companies are not decoupling by leaving China, but instead are considering which cross-border ties between China operations and global ones can and must be cut.”

“European companies both contributed to and benefitted from China’s strong and speedy economic recovery," said Denis Depoux, Global Managing Director of Roland Berger. "If given the right opportunities, they are ready to deepen their positions here, and have a wealth of technology and expertise to drive not only growth, but also help with China’s decarbonisation goals and its industrial upgrade."

 Download the report here.

 

在华欧盟企业渡过疫情困境,未来或将迎更大风浪

202168日,北京 - 中国欧盟商会携手罗兰贝格管理咨询公司于今日发布《商业信心调查2021》。该项年度调查由585家欧盟商会会员公司完成,就在华欧盟企业2020年业绩以及未来前景等相关问题作答。

主要结论

去年年初的商业前景看似相当黯淡:2020年年初,中国欧盟商会和德国商会对会员公司开展了一项联合调查,其中50%的受访者预计收入将同比下降,仅有0.5%的受访者预计收入将不降反升。但实际上,《商业信心调查2021》显示只有四分之一的受访者表示收入下降,42%的受访者仍然实现了一定程度的收入增长。良好的表现也同样体现在其他方面:

  • 四分之三的受访者在2020年实现盈利,这一比例与近五年内持平,这表明面对困难,欧盟企业适应了当下这个充满挑战的时代并获得成功。
  • 68%的在华欧盟企业对业务增长持乐观态度,这一数据年同比增长了20个百分点。
  • 坚定扎根中国市场——仅有9%的欧洲企业考虑将现有或计划内在华投资转移到其他国家和地区,这一比例再创新低。

然而,由于地缘政治局势不稳定,企业正在为应对未来的风险做好准备,特别是因贸易战或中西方之间持续存在的技术分歧所可能导致的跨境交易中断产生的风险。

  • 21%的制造企业报告表示他们不进口关键零部件。同时,三分之一的企业所需的进口零部件没有可用的替代品。剩余的企业可以找到解决方案,但都存在成本较高、质量较低和/或兼容性问题。
  • 对此,超过四分之一的制造企业正在对至少部分本地供应链加强建设,这一数量是转移供应链的企业的五倍。
  • 与当地合作伙伴建立合资企业的欧盟企业正在对合资公司增资,有27%的外资方提高了在合资公司中的持股比例,三分之二的企业拥有全部所有权或控股权。

与此同时,随着中国改革进程持续减缓,外部风险增大,通过加速改革来解决长期监管困境以抵消正在涌现的新挑战,此举势在必行。

  • 45%的会员企业表示遭遇了市场准入壁垒,与2020年的44%相比略有增加。
  • 47%的受访企业依然受到区别待遇。
  • 国有企业改革似乎停滞不前,仅有15%的受访者预计“民进国退”,48%的受访者持相反意见。
  • 尽管《外商投资法》已经生效,但被迫进行技术转让的情况仍然出现在16%的受访者中间,这一比例与去年持平。
  • 包含“关键信息基础设施”和“自主可控技术”等概念的监管要求定义模糊且宽泛,导致三分之一的受访者受到负面影响。

“我们的会员企业对中国市场的长期承诺在2020年实现了回报,但地缘政治的紧张局势迫使我们重新考虑在中国的战略。”中国欧盟商会董事会成员夏澜(Charlotte Roule)女士表示:“欧洲企业并不计划离开中国市场并与其脱钩,而是在权衡如何调整中国业务与全球业务之间的联系。”

“欧洲企业对中国强劲而迅速的经济复苏做出贡献,并从中受益。”罗兰贝格管理咨询公司国际董事总经理戴璞(Denis Depoux)先生表示:“如果有适当的机会,相信欧盟企业将逐渐深化在中国的地位,并拥有丰富的技术和专业知识,它们不仅可以推动增长,还有助于实现中国的脱碳目标和产业升级。”

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