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US Companies in China have positive views of the US election result’s impact

Shanghai, 20 November 2020 – With a change in US administration in January in 2021, COVID-19 contained in China, and China’s Dual Circulation policy getting considerable attention, AmCham Shanghai and our knowledge partner PwC China (PwC) conducted a 12-question business sentiment survey of the AmCham Shanghai membership. The survey was taken between 11-15 November.

Responses were received from the leaders of 124 companies, 50 of which declared global revenues in excess of US$1 billion. For comparative purposes, some questions were first asked in our annual China business climate survey (346 respondents), conducted between 16 June to 16 July 2020.

Findings:

Companies broadly view the prospect of a Biden administration favourably. This may be due to expectations that the US-China relationship will become more stable than it was for the past four years, though it is unlikely to return to the pre-2016 paradigm. For multinationals that are rebalancing away from China, uncertainty about US-China relations is their primary concern. Few companies, however, are moving much production elsewhere. A large majority believe that the Biden administration will use multilateral pressure as the policy of choice in its trade relations with China, followed by demands for reciprocity in the trade and investment relationship.

  • Companies have positive views of the US election result’s impact. 54.8% said they are more optimistic about doing business in China; 8.1% are much more optimistic, while only 1.6% (or two companies) said their thinking about doing business in China was now more pessimistic.
  • Asked about their investment or de-risking plans under a Biden administration, 53.2% of companies expect no change in their investment plans, 13.7% will increase investment, and just 5.6% will “commence, continue, or consider a China de-risking strategy.”
  • Companies are more optimistic now about their expected 2020 revenue outcome compared to when we asked in July, with 47.6% of respondents now expecting their 2020 revenue to exceed 2019 results compared to 32.5% in July.
  • Of companies with manufacturing in China, only two companies anticipate moving more than 30% of production offshore. 82% of companies with manufacturing operations in China have no plans to offshore their manufacturing in the next three years.
  • For companies with global boards that are rebalancing away from China, uncertainty about US-China relations remains their primary concern.
  • 29.8% of respondents believe that the US-China trade tensions will continue indefinitely, versus the 26.9% who agreed with this statement in our China Business Survey (CBR). Though those that thought trade tensions will warm within a year increased from 14.1% to 28.2% since the summer.
  • 56.5% of respondents do not expect trade restrictions or tariffs to increase, though 14.5% expect them to increase “somewhat.” A more optimistic 25% anticipate a decrease in trade restrictions or tariffs.
  • Further, over 50% of retail companies expect the Dual Circulation Strategy to help their business in China, though across all sectors 46% say is still too early to tell and a further 19.4% are unsure.

“Businesses are signalling that a Biden administration will bring more stability to the US-China relationship. This will be welcome after several years in which American companies have had to deal with uncertainty and sometimes erratic policies,” said Ker Gibbs, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. “The good news is that China’s economic recovery means American businesses are doing better than they imagined just four months ago, thanks to China’s strong economic recovery.”

“The pandemic has thrown a curve-ball at businesses operating here and abroad. With COVID-19 under control in China, the US election results provide optimism to the respondents for greater predictability that will encourage the resumption of paused investment and release increased investment in China, as well as renewed focus on resolute growth” said Mark Gilbraith, Lead Partner, US MNC Business Group, PwC China.

“Whether companies here take advantage of the unique growth market opportunities or superior production ecosystems, there are plenty of good investment opportunities at provincial, municipal and district levels right across China. In fact, like elsewhere, the dynamics of the pandemic market have pushed corporates to consider how they transform to take better advantage of the new opportunities presenting themselves.”

 

About the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai

The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, known as the "Voice of American Business" in China, was founded in 1915. AmCham Shanghai was the third American Chamber established outside the United States, and now has 3,000 members from 1,400 companies. As a non-profit, non-partisan business organisation, AmCham Shanghai is committed to the principles of free trade, open markets, private enterprise and the unrestricted flow of information.

AmCham Shanghai’s mission is to enable the success of our members and strengthen US-China commercial ties through our role as a not-for-profit service provider of high-quality business resources and support, policy advocacy, and relationship-building opportunities. Visit www.amcham-shanghai.org for more information about us. 

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Hana Hu

Senior Marketing Executive, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (21) 2323 3829

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