China CEOs less optimistic about global growth than peers

Jun 30, 2017
But more positive on own company growth, says KPMG

When it comes to global growth outlook, China CEOs are less optimistic than their global peers, according to a new study from KPMG.

While 69 percent of top executives at companies around the world say they’re confident in the global economic growth outlook, this drops to 54 percent among China CEOs. This number is down on 2016 figures but KMPG also points out that despite a less optimistic global outlook, ‘more than 90 percent of China CEOs are confident in the growth outlook of their [own company], a higher percentage than their global counterparts [82 percent].’

The survey highlights a number of areas for concern for top executives in China, including disruptive technologies, China’s regulatory and policy environment and geopolitical risks. In fact, more than a third are ‘reassessing their global footprint as a result of the changing pace of globalization and protectionism’, while 57 percent say the uncertainty of the current geopolitical landscape is having a greater impact on their organization than they have seen in many years.

But while the majority (80 percent) of China CEOs surveyed by KPMG expect technological innovations to bring about ‘major disruption’ in their respective sectors over the next three years, three quarters see this as a positive. Indeed, 70 percent say their own companies are seeking to disrupt their respective sectors – rather than waiting to be disrupted by competitors. 

This focus was recognized by Benny Liu, chairman of KPMG China, in a statement. ‘The CEOs I speak with recognize they are operating in a rapidly changing and complex business environment,’ he says. ‘Domestically, China’s restructuring process and an increasingly sophisticated consumer are leading to both challenges and opportunities, and CEOs are responding to this by embracing technological disruption to innovate their production and distribution models, as well as to create new products.’

The wide-ranging 2017 China CEO Outlook – Disrupt and Grow, with responses from 1,261 CEOs worldwide, including 125 from China, also covers views on globalization, areas of investment focus for Chinese firms and regions of planned growth for Chinese companies. While more CEOs from the US and Europe are ‘prioritizing their own domestic economies for growth, CEOs from Asia – including China – seem to be more interested in international markets,’ notes KPMG. The top three countries of focus for overseas new market growth are Australia, Germany and the UK.

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