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China

European companies become Sino-skeptics

Seems not too long ago everyone was bullish on China. Now the good times could be over, say company managers who would know.

The boom years in China are over. That was the gist of a survey conducted by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China that found nearly half of its member firms believed the golden age for multinationals is already a thing of the past.

"An abiding sense of pessimism for future performance is setting in, which is leading many to question whether the good times have ended," read the Chamber's report on confidence in the world's second largest economy.

The Chamber said one of the reasons for the negative attitude could be the fact that members passed up on 21.3 billion euros ($29 billion) worth of revenue last year due to market access issues and regulatory barriers.

"Complicated, difficult"

The survey suggested growth expectations in China were at their lowest levels since the financial crisis.

“Two-thirds of large companies stated that business in China has become more complicated and difficult,” said Jörg Wuttke, president of the EU Chamber.

Other factors contributing to Sino-skepticism listed in the report are a slowing Chinese economy, rising labor costs and more competition from privately-owned Chinese companies and resurgent state-owned enterprises.

Another great leap forward?

Communist Party leaders met last November and announced ambitious plans to reform the Chinese economy, with the aim to create a slower but more managed expansion.

But many foreign companies are not sure it will work. About half of the European companies surveyed said they did not believe the reforms will be implemented in the next two years.

kpc/cjc (Reuters, dpa, EU Chamber of Commerce)

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