May 2023
The Swiss Business in China Survey 2023 is the second such inquiry carried out since the start of the pandemic—following the COVID- induced hiatus in 2021— and follows previous editions published between 2006 and 2019. The survey instrument has been updated this year after many years of development, with many new questions negotiated by its numerous institutional stakeholders and then tested on respondents. The team intends to continue to improve the survey instrument, in both its English and Chinese versions. While the comparatively low number of respondents associates with statistical validation issues, the report undeniably provides unique insights of strategic and operational relevance to practitioners. The report also provides the Swiss public with a description of doing business in China during a critical juncture, and possibly the most challenging year for Swiss companies in over two decades. The collection of data for the 2024 survey will start in October 2023 with the intention of contrasting and contextualizing the findings of this report and assessing future trends.

Like its 2022 predecessor, the 2023 Swiss Business in China survey provides rich new findings and insights. It is particularly important as it allows direct comparisons to be made between the new post zero-COVID business environment and pre-pandemic years.
Swiss firms have recovered their confidence in successfully doing business in China and now view the country as a priority market for investment at a similar level to the pre-pandemic years.

However, Swiss businesses have lower expectations than in the past in terms of their sales and profit growth. China’s growth potential is considered in an article in Part III of this report.

Overall, Swiss companies in China seem to have weathered the challenges created by the 3 years of the pandemic.
Many took advantage of the crisis to improve their efficiency. Less intense competition and a more favorable human resources situation for Swiss employers certainly helped.

Interestingly, Swiss companies see previously reported challenges related to innovation and R&D in China as less of an issue. Time will tell if this is because they now face less intense competition or whether they are scaling down their innovation and R&D activities in China.

Despite the more positive outlook, the travails of 2022 have left an indelible impact on the business environment in China.
Regulatory challenges have not diminisheda and the likelihood of international sanctions on Chinese companies has risen due to the increasingly tense geopolitical situation. As a result, many Swiss businesses are changing their China strategies.

While Swiss firms still expect additional growth and profits from their China businesses, they are clearly more cautious with the investments that they plan to make. In particular, over 40% of them are canceling or postponing planned investments due to geopolitical tensions.

We would like to sincerely thank all of the participants in the 2023 survey. The respondents inform this report with valuable and timely insights on the opportunities for Swiss firms doing business in China at a time when such information is not more easily available. The outcome supports better communication between Head Offices and their Chinese subsidiaries and more successful businesses for all.

The Editors and Contributors to the Swiss Business in China Survey 2023

Download The Swiss Business in China Survey 2023 Report.