U.S. business lobby says market access concerns in China growing

Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:58am EDT
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By Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) - Multinational firms are planning to invest less in China because of market access barriers and slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy, a U.S. business lobby said on Tuesday.

China's economy expanded 7.4 percent year-on-year in the January-March quarter, its slowest pace in 18 months.

Concerns over market access and slower growth are greater this year than they were in the past, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in its annual report on the business climate in China.

"We refer to market access barriers as one of the primary reasons for lowered investment," Chamber Chairman Greg Gilligan told reporters at a briefing on the report.

"With slower growth, our member companies do not reflect less need for investment, but perhaps less need for investment based on the old economic model that was more reliant on exports and infrastructure spending," Gilligan said.

At a plenum meeting of the Communist Party last November, China announced ambitious reforms that signaled the shift of China's economy from infrastructure- and export-fuelled growth towards a slower, more balanced and sustained expansion.

The annual report, which the Chamber uses to lobby both the Chinese and U.S. governments, placed industrial policies that support Chinese state-owned enterprises atop the list of complaints.

"State-owned enterprises have increased their control over certain sectors of the economy in recent years, and government support for SOEs was overwhelmingly citied by AmCham China member companies as the most negative industrial policy, being chosen more frequently than all the other options combined," the Chamber said in the report.   Continued...

Businessmen walk on the Bund near the Huangpu River in front of the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai November 21, 2011. REUTERS/Aly Song