Speakers at the recent Forbes magazine-sponsored U.S.-China Business Forum expressed some optimism, despite the continued tensions between the two nations and an uncertain business environment.
The third annual gathering, which provides insight and exchanges among business leaders, was held online on Aug. 24. One speaker declared that U.S. companies in China remained hopeful about their business prospects but expressed concern over current political undercurrents that could undermine their progress. The result: The atmosphere makes it difficult to focus exclusively on business.
Large and growing economy
Former China diplomat and business leader Kenneth Jarrett told forum participants that U.S. companies remain optimistic about their opportunities in China. Their commitment to the market also remains firm. Why? China’s economy remains large and continues to grow due to the country’s growing middle class. The spending power is there among consumers, and many companies maintain solid profitability, said Jarrett, currently a senior adviser for business strategy firm Albright Stonebridge Group.
“[U.S. companies] see [China] as critical to their global performance. Companies don’t intend to leave. There actually hasn’t been that much activity in terms of leaving or reshoring,” Jarrett told Forbes magazine.
Another speaker, Henry Wang who is president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, admitted that the two countries must work on many things to overcome their current tensions. However, he affirmed that optimism exists in other areas. For example, the continuing high levels of trade between the two nations and the significant increase in visa approvals for Chinese students exemplify that not all hope remains lost.
The murkiness of the current relations between the U.S. and China should not deter American companies and entrepreneurs from exploring opportunities in the world’s most populous country. Matters may not be smooth now, but they are bound to improve.