European business remains confident in long-term investment in China
By Zhang Hui
Christophe Lauras, president of the French Chamber of Commerce in China. /CGTN

Christophe Lauras, president of the French Chamber of Commerce in China. /CGTN

European companies still have confidence in the Chinese market, and many have expressed their intention to continue to develop their businesses in China in the future, said Christophe Lauras, president of the French Chamber of Commerce in China (CCI France Chine).

With more than 2,100 subsidiary companies employing close to 445,000 people, France is the top European investor in China by the number of companies. The recent stringent COVID-19 control measures have an impact on investment strategies of 80 percent of French subsidiaries in China.

Nevertheless, China remains an attractive destination for innovation for 86 percent of French subsidiaries, and due to the sheer size and high potential of the Chinese market, 37 percent of subsidiaries still consider extending their investments in China, with only 16 percent considering reducing their presence in the country, according to a survey recently released by CCI France Chine.

The following excerpts are translated from an interview in French and have been edited for clarity and brevity.

CGTN: What is the current situation of French companies in China?

Christophe Lauras: French companies are preparing for the resumption of activity. Since the beginning [of the current wave of COVID-19], associations including the French Embassy in China and the French Chamber of Commerce in China have given a lot of support to our business community and companies. We have helped them to orient themselves in the midst of the crisis.

CGTN: What specific measures have the French team taken to help French companies in China resume work and production?

Lauras: In fact, when the activity stopped, small and medium-sized enterprises, individual restaurateurs and small service companies did not have even one or two months of cash. So what we have put in place was an advisory support system so that French companies that had cash flow problems could reach out to us, and we tried to help them find solutions. It is true that there is a lot of relief measures from the Chinese government. There are a lot of announcements on credits, cost of payroll and deferrals of tax payments, along with subsidies intended to maintain employment.

CGTN: What is the current attitude of French companies in China towards the Chinese market?

Lauras: To be very clear, I haven't heard of any [French] company wanting to leave China. [French] companies have confidence in China. The problem might be the current COVID-19 resurgence which has created a small confidence crisis to those companies' headquarters in Europe, not necessarily the companies themselves in China. We sometimes find it difficult to explain the merits of our activities in China [to our partners in Europe]. We hope the management  [communication] will evolve.

I am confident because I know that in China, we always find the solution. French and European companies have great confidence about their future in China. Moreover, many intend to continue expanding their activities here and to continue their growth.

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