Travel disruptions, cost cutting key issues for U.S. business in China: report

Travel disruptions, cost cutting key issues for U.S. business in China: report

© Reuters. A woman wearing protective face mask walks at Lujiazui financial district on the opening day of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Pudong, Shanghai

BEIJING (Reuters) – Global travel disruptions are the top concern for American businesses in China, of which many are cutting compensation and bonuses amid the fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a report from a business group.

Ninety percent of the 100 or so respondents said they were affected by such disruptions, up from 77% last month, according to a monthly survey on the impact of COVID-19 by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, released Friday.

Thousands of senior executives are stranded outside China, chamber chairman Greg Gilligan said in a news release.

“We will continue to work closely with the relevant government authorities in a bid to bring them back as soon as possible,” he said.

Sixty percent of companies said they were cutting costs. About half of respondents said they had or were considering cutting compensation for employees, with nearly 30% saying they were cancelling or deferring salary increases this year.

Both U.S. and European business groups are lobbying China to allow foreign workers back into the country after it shut its borders in late March to non-Chinese nationals to curb the coronavirus.

China sees imported cases from abroad as a key threat to its epidemic control.

It has only relaxed rules to allow some business travel from South Korea and Germany. Beijing has also consulted with Japan about easing border controls.

Nearly 60% of surveyed companies said they had resumed normal operations after nationwide lockdowns, although only a quarter of companies working in the resources or industrial sectors said this was the case. About half of manufacturers said their facilities are operating at normal capacity.

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