U.S. firms losing confidence in China business climate – Finance & Commerce

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HONG KONG — U.S. companies in China are seeing their sales improve but are frustrated by policies and regulatory barriers that block better access to the country’s lucrative market, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The U.S.-China Business Council’s survey showed most companies are enjoying better profitability and expecting higher revenues for their China operations as the economy revives.

But restricted market access and uncertainty over Beijing’s policies toward foreign companies have left them less optimistic about the business climate than in recent years.

The council represents 200 U.S. companies doing business with China. Results from the annual survey were based on responses from more than half its members.

Challenges include fierce competition from Chinese rivals, demands for technology transfers and strict cyber regulations.

“Most of the regulatory challenges that companies face each day did not see improvement this year,” President John Frisbie said. “The stagnation in implementation of needed economic reforms is undermining confidence among American companies that their concerns will be addressed.”

Chinese competition is a perennial concern, with companies saying their domestic competitors, both state-owned and private, are benefiting from preferential government financing, approvals and access to government contracts. That’s led some firms to reduce or halt their investment plans.

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