Most US firms in China oppose tariffs: Survey

File photo showing a man visiting a Tesla showroom in Beijing. Most US businesses operating in China oppose using tariffs as a weapon to solve their problems.
File photo showing a man visiting a Tesla showroom in Beijing. Most US businesses operating in China oppose using tariffs as a weapon to solve their problems.PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI • Most US businesses operating in China oppose using tariffs as a weapon to solve their problems, ranging from market access to poor protection of intellectual property rights, a survey suggested.

Nearly 69 per cent of the 434 respondents to the annual China Business Climate Survey of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai opposed tariffs, while 8.5 per cent backed them.

The survey, conducted from April 10 to May 10 and published yesterday, reflects the mix of concerns and realities for American businesses in China at a time of heightened uncertainty as the Donald Trump administration raises the ante in its trade war with Beijing.

"One should give the Trump administration credit for getting China's attention because for many years, there have been extended discussions about market access issues that plague foreign companies here in China, and the progress has been pretty slow," said Mr Ken Jarrett, president of AmCham in Shanghai.

However, Mr Jarrett said multilateral negotiations were a preferable approach."Now that the US government has China's attention, I think actually there's no alternative but to try to go back to the negotiating table," said the former US consul-general in Shanghai.

While US firms still face challenges in China, 34 per cent of respondents felt that state policies towards foreign firms had improved, up from 28 per cent last year, the survey showed.

Separately China said yesterday foreign firms operating in the country would suffer in a trade war.

"We hope US firms can do more to lobby the US government, and work hard to defend their own interests," Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a media briefing.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2018, with the headline 'Most US firms in China oppose tariffs: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe