Australian Companies Optimistic About Operating in China: Survey

(Bloomberg) -- Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull says relations with his Chinese counterparts are tense. Yet a survey released Tuesday shows that’s yet to have a negative impact on companies Down Under doing business in China.

Almost 80 percent 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 forecast they would increase their investment in the nation in 2018, compared with 45 percent 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 Prime Minister Turnbull admitted diplomatic relations with his nation’s biggest trading partner had declined in the wake of comments he made in December linking the need for new laws to halt foreign interference in the political process with media reports about Chinese meddling.

The report also showed:

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

The Australian Financial Review reported Thursday that China had become “incensed” by the Turnbull government’s rhetoric in December, and was regularly refusing visas for Australian ministers. Australia invested A$87.9 billion ($68.3 billion) in China in 2016, according to government figures.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.