The heads of China-headquartered firms have expressed a relatively pessimistic view of the outlook for the global economy, in comparison to their international peers, according to a survey released this month by the auditing firm KPMG. But they are more confident about the growth outlook for their own companies.
Only 54% of the 125 CEOs surveyed in China are confident about the outlook for global economic growth, versus 69% of top executives at companies across the globe, the survey shows. But 90% of them are positive about their own companies’ future development.
The survey responses reveal that 97% of them intend to hire more people during the next year while their international counterparts have ordered layoffs.
The KPMG report — 2017 China CEO Outlook — Disrupt and Grow — surveyed 1,261 global CEOs who operate businesses in key industries such as finance, energy, life sciences, and retail. Aside from presenting their views on economic growth, it also discloses how these leaders will embrace the fast-changing technological landscape, the uncertain geopolitical environment and a retreat on globalization initiated by the leading Western countries.
Technological innovation seen as a high priority
Chinese CEOs have increasingly become aware of the opportunities and challenges that the ongoing technology evolution can mean for their businesses, with 65% of them (versus 52% in 2016) expecting that their businesses will be transformed by new technology during the next three years. More than 60% ranked “innovation of their products, services, and ways of doing businesses” as a high priority during the next three years.
Chinese CEOs are likely to be less focused on expansion through mergers and acquisitions. After years of overseas buying sprees, they’ve started to place more emphasis on scaling up their current businesses (60%), establishing partnerships and joint ventures (39%), and undertaking the transformation of the current business model (35%).
The report also points out that cybersecurity, digital infrastructure, emerging technologies and workforce training are among the areas that Chinese CEOs are willing to invest in the most.
After witnessing the Brexit referendum, Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential victory and a series of regional conflicts and terrorist events in 2016, Chinese CEOs now put “geopolitical factors” as the second biggest impact on their companies’ growth during the next three years. In the previous year, this factor was ranked in 10th place.
Geopolitical uncertainty has a negative impact
Nearly 60% of the CEOs said that the current geopolitical environment has had a negative impact on their businesses, which was something they have not seen in many years. That recognition has led more than one-third of respondents to reassess their global footprint.
The CEOs are more optimistic about the pace of globalization compared with their global peers.
“The China CEOs I’m speaking with are committed to globalization and recognize the need to highlight the positive impacts it brings,” Vaughn Barber, chair of KPMG’s Global China Practice, said in a statement.
Their optimism is on par with the Chinese government’s overseas investment policy, such as the One Belt, One Road initiative, which is seeking to transform global trade relations.
In the survey, Chinese CEOs prioritize Asia Pacific, Central and South America and Central Asia as the top three regions for outbound growth opportunities. In addition, they hope to expand their businesses in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
(This article originally appeared on Jing Daily.)