0725 GMT January 21, 2022
Only about 4% of the more than 200 manufacturers surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said they will shift any production to the US, according to a report released Wednesday, Bloomberg reported.
More than 75% said they don’t intend to move production out of China, while 14% said they will shift some operations to other countries and 7% planned on relocating domestically and overseas.
“Southeast Asia is the most common destination,” said AmCham Shanghai President Ker Gibbs in an interview. “Definitely not the US.”
Many respondents were more pessimistic about the state of US-China relations, with 26.9% saying trade tensions would last indefinitely, up from 16.9% last year. Another 22.5% expected tensions to last between three to five years, up from 12.7% in 2019.
Trump renewed his threat to US companies on Monday.
“We’ll impose tariffs on companies that desert America to create jobs in China and other countries,” Trump said.
“Decoupling between China and the US – ending the flow of trade and technology that boosts growth potential – would lower China’s GDP expansion to 3.5% in 2030, down from a forecast of 4.5% if relations remain broadly unchanged.”
AmCham Shanghai found most companies aren’t planning on cutting jobs in China, with more than two-thirds saying they would maintain or increase their staff levels. About 29% planned reductions, largely because of the pandemic, said Gibbs.
The Trump administration has targeted Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co., and in August Trump signed an executive order announcing restrictions on WeChat, the popular app owned by Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings Ltd. that many Chinese consumers and businesses use for cashless payments.
Trump’s order is due to go into effect Sept. 20 when the US Commerce Department is likely to announce the scope of the curbs. AmCham Shanghai members are worried a broad application of the order may prohibit them from taking payments via WeChat in China, said Gibbs.
That could drive Chinese customers to non-American rivals, he said.
“Twitter, TikTok, those things are toys,” he said. “WeChat is deeply ingrained in the business ecosystem.”
Businesses are hopeful the Commerce Department will apply the restrictions in the US and allow companies to use it in China, said Gibbs.
For now, though, there’s no clarity.
“We are still very concerned,” he said.
The Trump administration is debating the scope and effective date of its bans on WeChat and TikTok and will make its decisions public later this month, Bloomberg reported last week, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Commerce Department is drafting documents to clarify the specific transactions that will be prohibited between the Chinese companies and US businesses – and when those prohibitions will take effect, the people said.
Almost 350 members of AmCham Shanghai participated in the report.