The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence<sup>™</sup> for China: 2023 H1 Results
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The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence for China: 2023 H1 Results

May 24, 2023 | Report

Confidence of MNC CEOs in China Improves Strongly on the Heels of Post-COVID Reopening

Insights for What’s Ahead

  • The latest Measure of CEO Confidence for China shows sentiment of CEOs of major MNCs operating in China improved strongly over the past six months, shifting decisively into positive territory. The Measure moved from 47 in 2022 H2 to 72 in 2023 H1. The Measure ranges from 0 to 100, with a reading below 50 points reflecting more negative than positive responses. Confidence among CEOs based in the US remains largely pessimistic, but has stabilized in Europe.
  • All three drivers – current business conditions, future business conditions, and future industry conditions – contributed strongly to improved CEO sentiment, but the strongest driver was clearly improvements in current business conditions, on the heels of China lifting all COVID restrictions and positive Q1 economic results.
  • CEOs’ sales outlook for China improved significantly compared to six months ago, with 76 percent of CEOs expecting China sales to improve over the coming six months. Short-term expectations regarding capital investment and employment inched upward, but remain largely in a “wait and see” pattern.
  • Views are mixed on China’s competitive position as a base for industry. Among MNC CEOs in China, 44 percent say China is maintaining its competitive position, while 33 percent say it is weaking. Only 24 percent see China’s competitiveness becoming stronger vis-à-vis its global peers. A sizeable share of CEOs (35 percent) sees investments and/or operations shift from China to Asia within the next two years, and to a lesser extent to North America, but not to Europe. 
  • With COVID restrictions now in the rearview mirror, the two outsized risks identified by the CEO group were geopolitical strife and China’s economic slowdown. Nearly all MNC CEOs in China (88 percent) say business prospects in China are negatively impacted by current geopolitical tensions. Likewise, an overwhelming majority of CEOs in Europe (78 percent) say geopolitics are negatively impacting their business prospects in China.
  • When asked about the strategic adjustments being made to de-risk the China business, the vast majority of MNC CEOs (82 percent) say they are further expanding their “in China for China” localizations, investments, and operational activities.



Former Research Director, Asia
The Conference Board


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