Beijing, 17 Jun. 2019 | The 2019 edition of the Business Climate Survey, conducted every second year by Team Sweden in China, was presented in Beijing and Shanghai on June 10 and 13 respectively.
Attending in Beijing was Ambassador Helena Sångeland and in Shanghai, Consul General Lisette Lindahl. Also in attendance were close to 30 company representatives in each city as well as representatives of Business Sweden and SwedCham.
Introducing this year's report, Business Sweden's David Hallgren and Joakim Abeleen, as well as SwedCham's Martin Vercouter, focused on some of the key trends from the survey:
Respondents were 102 Swedish companies in China, represented by one top-level representative each. They were divided according to main sector of activities in Consumer (17), Professional Services (31) and Industry (54). Size-distribution is even across sizes (employee count worldwide).
Revenue and profit for responding companies were both growing in 2018, although in general top line is increasing faster than bottom line, and the picture is getting different across sectors. The mode of 2018 y-o-y revenue growth distribution is at +15-20%, in line with annual reports published so far (+16%). Overall 66% report revenue increase 2017-18 (compare to EU average 59%).
Generally speaking, professional services come out on top in terms of reported (2017-18), forecasted (2018-19) growth in revenue and profit, while Industry is showing signs of divergence between sub-sectors.
The Chinese market is growing in importance for group revenue: two-thirds of respondents have China in top 3, and number share of China as number 1 market increased 7pp over 2017 to 2019 (24 to 31% of respondents).
In line with above, 89% cite access to China market as main reason for presence in the country (In 2013: 42%) and 71% of companies doing sales do so inside China.
At the same time, China is rising in importance as a hub to serve APAC region (only 40% serve only China, 21% serve whole APAC). But beware of challenges with difficulties of data & capital flow across borders (see below).
The business climate is overall positive, up slightly from 2017, and expectations on future climate are that it will remain unchanged or improve (with less than 20% predicting a less favourable climate over coming three years), although again more nuanced when zooming in on sectors.
Legal and regulatory framework is #1 concern, replacing Discrimination against foreign companies, indicating that there is cautious optimism about policy promises but also continued concern about their implementation and unchanged limitations of the legal system such as uneven enforcement, overriding interests, and specific laws such as cybersecurity law, etc.
Swedish firm boast high quality as main competitive advantage, and focus on innovation and digitalisation (also increasingly in B2B) to compete, but have a disadvantage in cost structure and lack of access to government.
At the time of the survey, 50% of the respondents did not perceive any impact of the US-China trade conflict, and among impacted companies the largest group (23%) say uncertainty is delaying investment. But the picture might have changed during Q2.
Swedish firms, irrespective of size, see Chinese SMEs as their biggest competitors in China, while State-Owned Enterprises are only seen as a main competitor by 16% of the respondents, mostly in Industry.
With regard to sustainable business, responding companies are very active, 76% have CSR as part of company strategy with Environmental Issues as #1 priority.
The chamber’s current General Manager, Martin Vercouter, has decided to leave his position by the end of August 2019. The board of directors has therefore carried out an extensive recruitment process during the spring, with a large number of qualified applicants.
Our final candidate, Daniela Ling-Vannerus Cassmer, will join the chamber on August 1, 2019, and formally take over the position as General Manager on September 1, 2019. Daniela will have to continue the strong development and improvement of the chamber that Martin Vercouter has built during his two years as General Manager.
Daniela has a background within marketing and economics and holds a Master’s Degree in International Business from the Schiller International University of Paris. Daniela also has a strong background within international media and sales with multiple positions internationally. Daniela is a Swedish citizen, she lives in Beijing with her husband and three children and speaks Swedish, Chinese, English and French.
Martin Vercouter will work in parallel with Daniela during August and leave his position by end of August.
Any questions will be answered by the Chairman of the board, Mr. Lars-Åke Severin
In September 2018, two events took place that resulted in an increased reporting about Sweden in Chinese media. SwedCham has analysed the events and potential effects on Swedish companies in China. The results presented in the white paper below show that the majority of the interviewed companies have not been notably affected, and continue to show strength both as consumer brands, as well as employers.
Highlights from the report include:
77% of surveyed SwedCham member companies have not been negatively affected by the events.
23% of companies state that they have been affected, reporting mostly comments in social media, worry amongst customers and/or employees and cancelled meetings with partners, media and as examples.
Overall, 8 out of 10 Chinese interviewed in Beijing and Shanghai have had an unchanged or more positive image of Sweden throughout the year.
Among the 22% that report a worsened image, the effect of the events is clear. With 55% of viewers reporting a worsened image, the effect is most pronounced among viewers of the Svenska Nyheter segment.
Companies express a certain uncertainty of long-term effects and ask for extended studies of Sweden’s brand in China focusing on the consumer market.
SwedCham notices the need to initiate a dialogue regarding what types of communicative support that Swedish companies abroad may need under similar circumstances.
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China would like to make the following comments regarding the satirical segment “Svenska Nyheter” that aired on the Swedish television channel SVT on September 21, 2018:
The show in question contains a two-minute “Information Film” for Chinese tourists travelling in Sweden. While this film is intended to be satirical, we are deeply concerned about the image it provides to members, partners, friends and families in the Chinese community since it contains negative stereotypes in a manner that can easily be seen as offensive or even racist.
We find this “Information Film” highly regrettable, and not representative of the views that the Swedish people hold of the Chinese people. Swedish companies, for example, are highly attractive employers, boasting a lower-than-average employee turnover due in particular to their open and inclusive culture.
We fully recognize the importance of upholding the freedom of speech, and free expression of individuals. As such, it should be recognized that the responsibility for the content lies with its producer alone.
Shanghai, 27 Jul. 2018 | SwedCham is proud to present the newest addition to our team, Emma Lindgren, who is taking over the Shanghai office from September.
Emma has for the past seven years worked with PR and communications for global, stock-listed companies, and as a communications consultant. Throughout her career, she has mainly focused on corporate and government affairs, as well as change management, largely within the fields of digital and organizational communication. Emma has also established her own business within PR and communications in Sweden, which is her present assignment. About her motivation for the role, she says the following:
Since I came to Shanghai six months ago I have been impressed by the Chinese entrepreneurship, the country’s ability to digitally transform, and the strong presence Swedish companies have established despite hard competition and complexity in society. In light of a changing global environment, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China will play a vital role and I look forward to utilizing my experience and expertise in strategic communications to continue the work of bringing our members even closer together and to further strengthen their united voice.
As such, Emma will be tasked with ensuring the continuity of member services, while developing new ways to boost the Chamber’s position as the natural loudspeaker for Swedish companies in China. Martin Vercouter, General Manager:
What Emma was able to demonstrate throughout the recruitment process is a tremendous motivation and clear ambition, on top of relevant professional experience. Given her background, I am confident that she will be a great addition to our team. And last but not least, I would like to wish her a warm welcome on board!
Emma will take up her position on September 1st. Marianne Westerback, who is leaving us after four years of excellent collaboration, will be assisting with the transition period to ensure a smooth hand-over. Questions and inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shanghai, 5 May 2017 | In keeping with a long tradition, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China is proud to present its 2017 Honorary Award to Mr. Mats Harborn, with the following motivation:
“Mats Harborn has for the past 25 years […] developed into one of the most prominent Swedes working in China, and one of the major promoters of Swedish enterprises in China. […] Through his great commitment as former Chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China and as vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China, Mats Harborn has created increased opportunities for Swedish enterprises to develop and succeed in China. Mats Harborn is, through his sincere interest in China, its culture, language and people, a person who creates opportunities for increased understanding and dialogue needed between people and companies in an international environment […].”
The award was handed over at the Swedish Chamber’s annual Spring Gala, in the presence of the Consul General of Sweden in Shanghai Ms. Lisette Lindahl, by Chairman of the board Lars-Åke Severin (PSU Consulting). “Mats is a personal source of inspiration.”, he says, “whenever I am in doubt I look up at him. He is a tremendous driving force in the dialogue between foreign firms and China.”
Besides a historical role with the Swedish Chamber, Mr. Mats Harborn has a long professional experience of China, working for Handelsbanken, the Swedish Trade Council in China and as the founder of Scania in China. He is also a familiar feature in the Executive programme at the Stockholm School of Economics, lecturing about Chinese culture, politics and business. In recent years, his passion for advocacy also saw him taking on the vice-presidency of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.
With China well on track to boost its global competitiveness through “Made in China 2025”, the widespread adoption of digital technologies could further accelerate progress in energy efficiency and productivity, as well as support China’s ambition to transform itself from a “big” into a “strong” manufacturer. The challenge is to integrate Chinese enterprises into the digital economy by connecting their robots, machines and plants to the industrial internet. As well as knowing what to do with all the data generated by their equipment and systems.
ABB is one of a small number of companies that is able to provide such information because, as well as digital know-how, ABB have one of the largest installed bases in power grids, industrial robotics, and control systems for industry. Because no single solution can keep increasingly interconnected systems secure, ABB uses multiple security layers to detect and deter threats, in close collaboration with customers.
There is strong evidence to suggest that digital technologies act as a spur for innovation by placing advanced technologies within reach of entrepreneurs. This is evident with the staggering success of online retailer Alibaba, taxi-hailing app Didi Chuxing, and messaging and electronic payments platform, WeChat.
The more it embraces digital technologies for industry, the more China can expect to see pioneering technology solutions emerging in the industrial space.
Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, will build its first fully electric car in China, the company announced on April 19 2017, at Auto Shanghai in China. The decision to make its first electric car in China highlights the central role China will play in Volvo’s electrified future and underlines China’s growing sophistication as a manufacturing centre for the automotive industry.
“Volvo Cars fully supports the Chinese government’s call for cleaner air as outlined in the latest five-year plan. It is fully in-line with our own core values of environmental care, quality and safety,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars. “We believe that electrification is the answer to sustainable mobility.”
China is the world’s largest sales market for electrified cars and has ambitious targets to expand sales of fully electric and hybrid cars in order to address congestion and air quality issues in its cities.The all new model will be based on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) for smaller cars, and will be available for sale in 2019 and exported globally from China, Volvo said.
Volvo has three manufacturing facilities in China in Daqing, which makes its 90 series cars, Chengdu, which makes its 60 series cars, and Luqiao, which will make its 40 series cars.