This latest CEIBS survey is of particular interest not only for its findings but also because:
• It is the only survey that collects responses from both Chinese and foreign companies in China. Furthermore, this year’s edition contains once again a unique analysis of international and Chinese SMEs.
• This survey allows comparisons among firms of different national origins that operate in China, based on a sufficient number of replies from each region.
For the Swiss business community, it is for the sixth time possible to understand how similarly Swiss, European and American companies perceive their China environment.
In terms of profitability, however, Swiss companies are stagnating (61% announce to be “profitable” or “very profitable”). This may in a sense explain why after a marked rebound in confidence last year, Swiss firms see the long term with less confidence than the immediate future. It is the first time this has happened since the survey is conducted. It is also noteworthy that, on the other hand, Chinese firms continue to expect better times over the long term.
Fierce competition, originating more and more from Chinese private companies, remains the most pressing external challenge for the fourth year in a row to both foreign and Chinese firms. This is contrary to the perception abroad that IP infringement, an unfair legal system or corruption are the major concerns of foreign companies in China. The corruption perception has been clearly improving over the years, with almost two third of Swiss firms considering it to be a minor problem or not a problem at all.
However, foreign and particularly Swiss SMEs with their traditionally niche fields of activities are less affected by the domestic competition than larger enterprises.