Amid US-China trade dispute, companies say there's one area of change

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However, Stratford pointed out that nearly half the respondents from the technology and resources and industrial sectors said they would investment in China if they thought protection of intellectual property were stronger.

In the ongoing trade dispute, the U.S. has accused China of stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to share technology when they do business in the mainland.

Tensions between the world’s two largest countries escalated last year with each applying tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods from the other. Following several weeks of discussions in Washington and Beijing, Trump said earlier this week he would delay a planned March 1 tariff increase due to “substantial progress” on trade negotiations.

The AmCham survey findings were generally gloomy, in keeping with complaints about an uneven playing field for foreign companies in China’s state-controlled economy and the slowdown in growth there.

Overall profitability fell slightly and business optimism declined, with a notable increase in concerns about rising costs, the report said. The survey also showed nearly one in five companies, or about 20 percent, did not expect their market to grow this year. For more than a third of respondents, margins on earnings before interest and taxes were lower in China than their operations in other parts of the world.

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