Claims by foreign firms exaggerated: expert

Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2015-2-11 23:18:22

Survey shows companies perceived increased challenges in China

The claims by a US business lobby survey that foreign businesses are facing increased challenges in China are exaggerated, an expert said on Wednesday, pointing to considerable efforts that have been made in improving the country's investment climate.

The challenges of doing business in the country have been exaggerated, Wang Jun, a senior economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), told the Global Times, commenting on the findings of an annual business climate survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, published on Wednesday.

A flurry of advances have been made since the new leadership came in, with a lot of administrative approval procedures having been removed serving as an impetus for foreign investment in the country, Wang said.

Foreign businesses are confronted by increased challenges in the Chinese mainland market, according to the survey findings, citing protectionism among the top concerns for their operations in the country.

Fifty-seven percent of the 477 respondents included in the survey said they believed recent government investigations "singled out" foreign companies.

The survey results also said increasing protectionism had become the fifth-greatest concern for businesses in China for the first time since 2010.

Labor costs, unclear laws and regulations, and shortages of qualified staff and managers remained atop the list of business challenges.

"There are concerns that China will take an approach, that when the economy slows down, they become more protectionist," chamber chairman James Zimmerman told reporters.

Cyber security, the risk of intellectual property leakage and data security threats were greater in China than in other markets, according to 60 percent of survey respondents.

"In the case of the country's antitrust campaign which has not only probed the anti-competitive practices of foreign-invested businesses, but their domestic counterparts, some foreign companies' complaints of being targeted are not convincing," CCIEE's Wang said.

The enforcement of China's Anti-Monopoly Law is never aimed at cracking down on any foreign-invested business, but to provide a level playing field for all market participants, Xu Kunlin, the head of the price supervision and anti-monopoly bureau under the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters on Tuesday.

The commission on Tuesday announced that its 14-month investigation into anti-competitive practices by US mobile chip maker Qualcomm Inc had finished, with Qualcomm agreeing to pay a $975 million fine, the largest in China's corporate history.

Despite the concerns cited in the survey, the majority of the chamber's members were positive about the China market over the next two years, with 73 percent saying their businesses were profitable.

China still remained a strong magnet to global capital thanks to political stability, growing markets, improving facilities, opening-up progress and a better business environment, Shen Danyang, the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said at a news conference in Beijing in late January. 

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