Survey: SARS Undermines Business Confidence In China

By John S. McClenahen Not surprisingly, SARS, the pneumonia-like disease formally known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, is causing a loss of confidence in China and Hong Kong as business centers. Some 68% of 272 international company executives in Asia and the Pacific polled between April 14 and April 24 by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) now view China more negatively as a business center than they did before the outbreak of SARS became public. Hong Kong's reputation also has suffered, with 56% of the executives saying their view is now more negative than before. Revenues are likely to take the biggest business hit from SARS, with 71% of the survey's respondents saying they expect to lose sales. A narrow majority -- 51% -- also expect to see productivity fall. Some 90% of the companies included in the survey have operations in China, Hong Kong or both. The majority of the executives responding were from Hong Kong (36%) and Singapore (30%). The EIU is a part of the London-based Economist Group, publisher of the Economist magazine.

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