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Bullish Swiss crow about Rooster Year

By Siva Sankar | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-18 09:42

Swiss businesses in China are more bullish and hope to rule the roost in the Year of the Rooster, beginning Jan 28, a survey has revealed.

There are around 1,000 Swiss companies operating in China whose key products and services are machinery, equipment, pharmaceuticals, watches and instruments, insurance and financial services.

The survey of 102 corporate decision-makers revealed that 61 percent of Swiss companies plan to invest more in China this year.

In 2015, Swiss companies invested more than CHF20 billion ($19.82 billion) in China, and the figure for 2016 is estimated to come in at CHF24 billion, with hopes for 2017 now brightening further.

The 2017 Swiss Business in China Survey was conducted by China Integrated Co Ltd, the China Europe International Business School and a slew of Swiss trade, industry and diplomatic chambers,including the Swiss Embassy in Beijing, and the Swiss Centers, a non-profit organization that lowers market entry barriers for Swiss companies entering Asia.

For 57 percent of the survey respondents, China figures among the top three priority markets for investments.

On a scale of 0 to 10, the confidence level of Swiss enterprises in China has risen to 6.7 this year from 5.9 last year. The confidence level for the next five years is even higher: 6.9.

The survey found that 68 percent of Swiss businesses in China expect "higher" or "substantially higher" sales in 2017 compared with 2016. Their collective sales in 2016 were estimated to be worth around CHF24 billion, up from CHF20 billion in 2015.

"Not only are sales expectations very high, but also profit expectations," said Nicolas Musy, founder and delegate of the board of Swiss Centers in China.

In 2016, about 68 percent of managers of Swiss companies in China said their operations were "profitable" or "very profitable", the survey found, while only 1 percent reported a substantial loss. For 2017, 48 percent expected higher profits while only 4.6 percent foresee lower profits.

Among the key concerns of Swiss businesses in China are finding and retaining skilled talent and marketing capability. Swiss companies seem to cope with the need for innovation slightly better than others because of Switzerland's expertise in this regard. Only 43 percent of the respondents said innovation capability is a major hurdle. That compares with 61 percent of non-Swiss respondents, said Zhen Xiao, managing director of the Swiss Centers China.

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