US firms doing business in China mostly oppose tariffs, survey shows

US President Donald Trump holds his signed memorandum on intellectual property tariffs on high-tech goods from China on March 22. Trump has accused China of unfair trade practices that give its firms an advantage, while hobbling American companies and creating an outsized trade deficit for the US. (Reuters)
Updated 12 July 2018
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US firms doing business in China mostly oppose tariffs, survey shows

  • President Donald Trump has accused China of unfair trade practices that give its firms an advantage, while hobbling American companies and creating an outsized trade deficit for the US
  • The biggest operational challenge of all was rising costs, an issue confronting more than 95 percent of respondents, the poll showed

SHANGHAI: Most US businesses operating in China oppose the use of tariffs in retaliation for the challenges they face, from an uneven playing field to poor protection of intellectual property rights, a survey showed on Thursday.
Almost 69 percent of the 434 respondents to the annual China Business Climate Survey of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai opposed tariffs, while just 8.5 percent backed them, the body said.
“Resolving these challenges in an equitable manner is essential for the US and China to have a healthy long-term commercial relationship that brings benefits to both our peoples,” it said in a statement on the survey results.
The survey, conducted between April 10 and May 10, reflects the mix of key concerns and realities for American businesses in China at a time of heightened uncertainty as the Trump administration raises the ante in its trade war with Beijing.
US President Donald Trump has accused China of unfair trade practices that give its firms an advantage, while hobbling American companies and creating an outsized trade deficit for the US.
On Tuesday, the office of the US Trade Representative said it would impose 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, from food products to tobacco, chemicals, coal, steel and aluminum.
The survey showed that while US companies continue to face challenges in China, 34 percent of respondents felt Chinese government policies toward foreign companies had improved, up from 28 percent last year.
The number of companies that felt policies had worsened for foreign firms fell to 23 percent from 33 percent, although 60 percent of respondents felt China’s regulatory environment lacked transparency, on par with last year.
Insufficient intellectual property rights protection and the need to get licenses were the top two regulatory challenges, although slightly fewer companies found both to be a hindrance in the 2018 poll, compared with that of 2017.
To force greater market access, 42 percent of respondents favored investment reciprocity, up from 40 percent last year. But the number opposing it also grew, to 16 percent, from 9 percent last year. The number of those unsure rose to 44 percent from 31 percent.
“Despite the relative optimism our members feel guarded about the future,” AmCham said in its statement.
Concerns such as government favoritism for domestic firms and pressure on US ones in strategically important sectors to transfer technology were “stoking demand for reciprocity in the US-China trading relationship, even if our members generally oppose the use of retaliatory trade tariffs,” it added.
The biggest operational challenge of all was rising costs, an issue confronting more than 95 percent of respondents, the poll showed. More than 85 percent of respondents saw domestic competition as a challenge.
The proportion of companies expecting to be profitable was basically flat, at about 77 percent, but firms signaled they were pulling back slightly on investment.
The survey showed 53 percent of companies increased investment in 2017, down from 55 percent the year before, highlighting a trend of reduced investment growth since a 2012 peak, when 74 percent of respondents said they had boosted investment in China.


Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

Updated 15 February 2019
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Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

  • Saudi Arabia and UAE initiatives ‘driving forward industrial defense capabilities’
  • Budgets are increasing as countries pursue modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities

LONDON: Defense spending by Gulf Arab states is expected to rise to more than $110 billion by 2023, driven partly by localized military initiatives by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a report has found.

Budgets are increasing as countries pursue the modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities, according to a report by analytics firm Jane’s by IHS Markit.

Military expenditure in the Gulf will increase from $82.33 billion in 2013 to an estimated $103.01 billion in 2019, and is forecast to continue trending upward to $110.86 billion in 2023.

“Falling energy revenues between 2014 and 2016 led to some major procurement projects being delayed as governments reigned in budget deficits,” said Charles Forrester, senior defense industry analyst at Jane’s.

“However, defense was generally protected from the worst of the spending cuts due to regional security concerns and budgets are now growing again.”

Major deals in the region have included Eurofighter Typhoon purchases by countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia is also looking to “localize” 50 percent of total government military spending in the Kingdom by 2030, and in 2017 announced the launch of the state-owned military industrial company Saudi Arabia Military Industries.

Forrester said such moves will boost the ability for Gulf countries to start exporting, rather than purely importing defense equipment.

“Within the defense sector, the establishment of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) in 2017 and consolidation of the UAE’s defense industrial base through the creation of Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC) in 2014 have helped consolidate and drive forward industrial defense capabilities,” he said.

“This has happened as the countries focus on improving the quality of the defense technological work packages they undertake through offset, as well as increasing their ability to begin exporting defense equipment.”

Regional countries are also considering the use of “disruptive technologies” such as artificial intelligence in defense, Forrester said.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Friday that worldwide outlays on weapons and defense rose 1.8 percent to more than $1.67 trillion in 2018.

The US was responsible for almost half that increase, according to “The Military Balance” report released at the Munich Security Conference and quoted by Reuters.

Western powers were concerned about Russia’s upgrades of air bases and air defense systems in Crimea, the report said, but added that “China perhaps represents even more of a challenge, as it introduces yet more advanced military systems and is engaged in a strategy to improve its forces’ ability to operate at distance from the homeland.”