Businesses voice cautious optimism about deal impact

By GT Reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/13 22:03:41

Traders hope for significant


Graphics: GT

Prior to the signing of the phase one trade deal between China and US, some export-oriented businesses in Yiwu, a commodity hub in East China's Zhejiang Province, voiced cautious optimism about what impact the deal will bring to their businesses while the US business community looked forward to the deal with anticipation.

The Chinese trade delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He has left Beijing en route to Washington DC to sign the phase one trade deal with US officials, a source told the Global Times on Monday.

A manufacturer of artificial flowers surnamed Li, based in Yiwu, told the Global Times on Monday that it doesn't matter much to her business anymore whether the agreement is signed or what it contains.

"The US is no longer our focused market. Customers did not adhere to the spirit of their contracts during the past year, making that market more uncertain than ever. Hence, we've explored the European and African markets, where there is huge demand for artificial flowers, especially in Italy," said Li. If US buyers come, the company will still do business with them, but it will not actively expand the market.

Before the US launched the trade war against China in mid-2018, about 80 percent of Li's company's exports went to the US market every year. But last year, the company saw 60 percent of its products exported to Europe and 30 percent to Africa. Li said that many manufacturers in Yiwu are also eyeing the domestic market, as China has maintained steady growth amid a weak world economy.

Li is not alone. Zeng Desen, a sales manager of Shenzhen-based drone maker AEE Aviation Technology Co, told the Global Times on Monday that the company is not worried because it is shifting its business to other markets like Europe.

The company is still building relationships with its US customers so that "our sales in the US can go up once the trade war is deescalated," Zeng said.

However, US companies operating in China haven't been lucky enough to find another market that can compete with China in terms of demand, so they're taking a wait-and-see attitude about what the China-US trade tensions will lead to.

"We have to wait for some time to see how a phase one trade deal will affect US companies operating in China. June will be the critical moment," Zheng Zhihua, representative of American General Business Association in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.

"A phase one trade deal is good. The US has become exhausted after taking all the actions it's exposed to," Zheng said.

A source from Walmart China told the Global Times that the company doesn't want to comment on this issue at the moment. Apple also declined to comment, while figures showed its sales saw a rebound in China despite trade tensions. Apple shipped nearly 3.2 million iPhones in China in December 2019, up 18.7 percent year-on-year, media reports said.

Graphics: GT

Profitable future

Graphics: GT

The US business community in China hopes there will be no confrontation in the trade arena as China is a major market for these companies, analysts said. 

Apple is typical of US companies that still see a profitable future in China, supported by its huge consumption potential and the government's commitment to improve lives.

According to the 2019 China Business Report jointly released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China and global accounting firm PwC in September, about 75 percent of the surveyed US pharmaceutical and medical device companies in China expected increased revenues in 2019. The survey was carried out in mid-2019.

In addition, 59.2 percent of the respondents said that increasing consumption will be the top factor to benefit their industry over the next three to five years, slightly up from the previous year's 58 percent. 

Additionally, 40 percent of those increasing investment in the Chinese market last year reported doing so due to the market's growth potential. 

China's measures to expand opening-up in 2020 will provide more opportunities for foreign companies. In 2019, China accepted an application from a unit of American Express Co about starting operations in the country, according to an official post by the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, on Wednesday.


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