Analyses & Studies

French companies in China - Q3 Business climate survey

Cautious optimism is back for French companies in China

 

With almost 2100 subsidiaries employing some 307400 people, France is the leading European investor in China by the number of companies. With its 1600 members, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (CCI FRANCE CHINE) has been defending the interests of French companies since 1992.

Following up on the series of surveys launched from April 2022, CCI FRANCE CHINE questioned its members between October 11 and October 27 2023 on their activity in the context of the country's reopening. 304 companies responded to the survey.

 

Read the report of the survey here.

Lire le rapport en français ici.

在此阅读完整报告.

 

Read the findings of the survey below:

  • Economic Dynamics: A significant 63.7% express concerns about China's economic instability, emphasizing the prevailing unease in the business community. Only a mere 1% find the economic environment very stable.

 

  • Regulatory and Geopolitical Impact: A significant portion, 54.1%, of respondents find Chinese regulations to be either opaque or very opaque, while a mere 3.3% perceive them as transparent. Additionally, a staggering 78% acknowledge negative repercussions on their businesses stemming from geopolitical tensions. These findings underscore the challenges posed by regulatory complexity and geopolitical uncertainties in the Chinese business landscape.

 

  • Competitive Landscape: With 69% of respondents noting an increase in competition, primarily from local Chinese private companies (51%) and state-owned enterprises (29%), the business environment is undergoing a notable shift.

 

  • Profit Trends: As Q3 concludes, a quarter of respondents report a slight decrease (25.7%) in profits compared to 2022, while another 25.7% maintain stability, and 22.5% observe a slight increase. Encouragingly, over half of the surveyed companies anticipate a future increase in profits, with 45.5% expecting a slight uptick and 9.4% envisioning a substantial increase. This cautiously optimistic outlook indicates a potential rebound in profitability for the coming year.

 

  • Strategic Investments: An impressive 44% plan to increase investments in China, with only 10% considering relocation. Strategic focus leans heavily towards offensive measures (69%) for capacity expansion, signaling a proactive stance among businesses.

 

  • Activity Outlook: While over a third of companies anticipate increased activities in 2023, almost half expect better results in 2024. The sentiment aligns with the confidence of 56.8% of respondents who remain optimistic about the growth prospects of the Chinese market in their respective sectors over the next three years.

 

The survey highlights that French companies continue to face a considerable number of challenges in China but there's a discernible optimism, with companies adapting strategies to navigate the dynamic landscape and capitalize on growth opportunities. In light of this situation, CCI FRANCE CHINE and its members call for foreign companies to be given equal access to financial support programs, and for the establishment of a fair business environment.

 

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