Chinese firms' outbound deals to increase

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A visitor experiences JD's drone delivery service through a VR device at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the United States, on Jan. 9. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chinese business leaders have kept faith to look for opportunities overseas, and plan to increase outbound investment despite trade disputes, said a report from Brunswick Group, an international advisory company.

The United States is still seen as the No. 1 market with great potential for Chinese companies to expand business despite trade disputes with China and its investment controls, said the report, entitled New Perceptions of China Going Global.

A survey showed that about 80 percent of global respondents expected Sino-US relations to improve over the next 12 months, although 26 percent of them would like to put US investment decisions on hold until the situation becomes more certain.

The survey also interviewed 300 senior leaders at Chinese companies for their attitudes toward Chinese outbound investment.

"I expect that Sino-U.S. economic relations in 2019 will be a mix of friction, accusation, and negotiation. Yet the world depends on both economies," Bob Zoellick, Brunswick geopolitical principal and former president of the World Bank, wrote in the report.

Business executives will need to be alert to risks and possible opportunities, against a broader backdrop of shifts in trade, investment, technology and finance, said Zoellick.

In the survey, nearly half of the Chinese business leaders said that exports and sales outside of China became much more important in 2018.

"China is in the international spotlight," said Yan Mei, Brunswick Group's senior partner in China. "Despite current geopolitical and commercial tensions, Chinese companies are still looking overseas to grow their markets."

Data from the Ministry of Commerce last week indicated that China's outbound direct investment rose 4.2 percent in 2018, to $129.83 billion, with investment mainly flowing to the business services, manufacturing, retail and mining sectors.

"Irrational outbound investment was further effectively contained," ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.

Chinese investors are seeking long-term opportunities with the expectation that they can manage or capitalize on near-term risks, according to an earlier report from EY Global Ltd.

"While the world has moved into a new and unsettling geopolitical phase, Chinese businesses and investors cannot focus purely on risk mitigation. Change produces opportunities, and moving forward on value creation-with strategies and processes that factor in risks and create contingencies-is vital," said Jon Shames, EY Global Geostrategic Business Group Leader.

The Brunswick survey also collected views from 7,500 members of the general public across 18 countries where Chinese firms have significant investments and ambitions for growth.

Results showed that Chinese companies have a positive image globally, with 74 percent of respondents reflecting positive opinions, despite the trade disputes between China and the U.S.

Ensuring greater understanding of Chinese businesses among international audiences is key to creating more positive perceptions, and that cannot be done without more and better communication, according to Peter Zysk, a director of Brunswick in Beijing.

"Chinese businesses will inevitably take on a global leadership role as it participates more closely in this conversation. Yet a variety of barriers must be navigated in order for that leadership to be viewed favorably and with trust," the report said.

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