Australian companies optimistic about operating in China: survey

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says relations with his Chinese counterparts are tense, but a survey released on Tuesday shows that’s yet to have a negative impact on local companies doing business in China.

Almost 80 per cent of more than 160 Australian businesses are optimistic about their operations in China for the next year, according to the 2018 Westpac Australia-China Business Survey.

About half tose surveyed forecast they would increase their investment in the nation in 2018, compared with 45 per cent the year before, even as the report showed concern about the lack of transparency in the nation’s regulatory environment.

The survey results come days after the Prime Minister admitted diplomatic relations with his nation’s largest trading partner had declined in the wake of comments he made in December linking the need for laws to halt foreign interference in the political process.

The report also showed:

  • 79 per cent of Australian companies forecast profitability for their Chinese operations in 2018; compared with 66 per cent in 2017
  • While 58 per cent regard China as a leading or advanced technological nation, only 16 per cent have a detailed e-commerce strategy for the nation
  • 58 per cent regard China’s regulatory environment as not transparent, and 36 per cent say that’s hindered their growth in China
  • Unpredictable government policy was regarded as the No. 1 risk to success, identified by 24 per cent of respondents.

The Financial Review reported on Thursday that China had become “incensed” by the Turnbull government’s rhetoric in December, and was regularly refusing visas for Australian ministers.

Australia invested $87.9 billion in China in 2016, according to government figures.