HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Sept 11): Companies on the front line of the trade war are increasingly pessimistic about President Donald Trump’s strategy to boost their sales in the Chinese market, according to a new survey by a leading business organization.
Of the 333 members taking part in an annual survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, 75% said they opposed the U.S. using tariffs, up from 69% a year ago. Only 14% said they supported Trump’s levies, an increase of five percentage points.
The U.S. business group conducted the survey with PwC Consulting Services in China from June 27 to July 25, and released the findings at a press conference in Shanghai.
“We do support principally what the administration is trying to achieve here in terms of the U.S.-China relationship — it is the tactic of tariffs that’s actually what faces the most disagreement,” AmCham Shanghai President Ker Gibbs told reporters.
“The overall growth story, profit story, in the China market is fundamentally intact. Yes we have got some GDP growth issues, but this is an extremely attractive market,” said Gibbs, adding that he will travel with a delegation to Washington this month and present the report to officials.
Instead of tariffs, 29% called for expanded government dialogue and 24% wanted more multilateral pressure with the EU and other groups.
Only 7% expect an improvement in trade relations within the next six months, compared to 36% who said the situation would last for another one to three years. In addition, 13% said they expected trade tensions to continue for three to five years, and 17% said they expected the situation to last indefinitely.
Of companies surveyed, 5% said tariffs had led to an increase in their revenue, compared to one-third who said their revenue had declined as much as 10%. Another 13% of respondents said their revenue declined as much as 20%.
One of the Trump administration’s goals in the trade war — ending forced transfer of technology and intellectual property by U.S. companies in exchange for access to the Chinese market — is not a major concern for AmCham Shanghai members, with just 4.4% of respondents saying it was the most important issue for their businesses.
Thirteen percent of respondents reported pressure to transfer technology, down 8.2 percentage points from the 2018 survey.