2019 Westpac Australia-China Business Sentiment Survey

AustCham Shanghai is very proud to be partnering with Westpac to deliver the second annual Westpac Australia-China Business Sentiment Survey.

Over the next four weeks we will be asking all Australian organisations operating in, or with, China to participate by completing an online sentiment survey.

Please click here to start the 2019 Westpac Australia-China Business Sentiment Survey.

Why participate?

  • The Survey will provide valuable insight into the health of the Australia-China economic relationship.
  • The results of the Survey can be used by your organisation as a bench-marking tool to inform your business strategy in China.
  • The report will enable stakeholders to better understand the real opportunities and challenges facing Australian business in China today.
  • The data will strengthen the Chamber’s advocacy efforts which aim to advance Australia-China business relations.


Your organisation must fall under at least one of the following criteria to be eligible to participate in the Survey:

  • Australian ABN/ACN
  • Chinese/Hong Kong entity with over 50% Australian ownership (by either an Australian individual or an Australian organisation)
  • Distribute Australian products/services in China
  • Federal, state or local Australian government entity
  • AustCham Shanghai member

What resources are required to participate?

A high-level understanding of the following areas of your organisation is required to participate in the Survey:

  • 2017/2018 economic performance and economic outlook for 2019
  • Goals and strategies for China market (including investment strategy and e-commerce strategy)
  • Challenges and risks in China

Please click here to start the 2019 Westpac Australia-China Business Sentiment Survey.

2018 Business Sentiment Survey

Click here to download the 2018 Westpac Australia-China Business Sentiment Survey Report

The 2018 Report provides an insight into the current health of the Australia-China trade relationship, and features case studies from leading Australian brands in the China market: Blackmores, Metcash, Sanitarium and Woods Bagot.

Key Findings

Sentiment, Profitability and Investment

  • 78% reported a positive sentiment for their China operations over the next 12 months
  • 83% reported a positive sentiment for their China operations over the next 5 years
  • 79% forecast profitability for 2018, compared to 66% in 2017
  • 51% forecast an increase in their China investment for 2018, compared to 45% in 2017


  • The number 1 trend for the next 3-5 years is “Innovations in Technology, Media and Communications”
  • 58% regard China to be leading or more advanced in technology compared to other global markets
  • Only 16% have a detailed China e-commerce strategy in place
  • Those businesses with a detailed China e-commerce strategy were found to be 12% more profitable than the average

Regulatory Environment

  • 36% regard the regulatory environment to have hindered their organisation's growth in China
  • 58% regard China’s regulatory environment as not transparent, and 27% reported that this lack of transparency hinders business
  • 55% have benefitted in some form from the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement
  • 43% report China’s Belt and Road Initiative to be a positive driver for their China strategy

Sentiment Survey FAQs

What is the Westpac Australia-China Business Sentiment Survey?

The Survey is an in-depth analysis of the sentiments and outlook of Australian businesses in China. The Survey findings comprehensively describe and explore the opinions, strategies and challenges of Australian businesses in China.

Why should I read the 2018 Report?

If you are an Australian business looking at entering the Chinese market, or an existing business in China wishing to benchmark your results — this report provides insight into the Australia-China business environment and will assist you to identify opportunities for growth and areas for improvement.

How is this Survey unique?

The Survey is the largest survey to analyse the sentiment of Australian businesses operating in or with China. The 2018 report also uniquely showcases several case studies from key Australian businesses who have successfully navigated the Chinese market, providing the reader with further insight into on-the-ground opportunities and risks in China. It is also the only report that provides an in-depth analysis of two of the biggest challenges facing Australian businesses in China—e-commerce and the regulatory environment.

Who are the 2018 Survey participants and how were they surveyed?

The 2018 Survey includes sentiments from 161 businesses of varying sizes across 21 different industry sectors. The respondents fell under at least one of the following categories: (i) Australian businesses distributing products or providing services to China, (ii) Chinese entities with over 50% Australian ownership, (iii) Federal, State or Local Australian Government entity or (iv) AustCham Shanghai member.

The entities were asked 61 questions relating to their experience of doing business in or with China. The data was then tabulated and summarised in the report.

What is the general sentiment of Australian businesses operating in China?

The 2018 results demonstrate that Australian businesses are generally very optimistic about doing business in China and consider that if inherent challenges are effectively overcome—then the Chinese market can be one full of possibility and profitability. The general outlook amongst Australian businesses in China is overwhelmingly positive, this is despite Australian businesses experiencing certain challenges in terms of regulatory treatment and perceived preferences and advantages for Chinese enterprises.

How profitable are Australian businesses in China?

Most Australian businesses are forecasting year-on-year growth for their China operations. Australian businesses mainly attribute this to the quality of their product, brand reputation and established client relationships. For instance, 66% of businesses were reported as profitable in 2017, with an increase to 79% expected in 2018. It was also found that the larger a business was and the longer they had been operating in China, the more profit they accrued—indicating that reputation and market familiarity are key to profitability in China.

What are the biggest challenges for Australian businesses in China?

Despite businesses possessing a generally-quite-positive outlook, challenges continue to exist for Australian businesses in maintaining a competitive-edge in an ever-changing and progressively-dynamic Chinese market. Unfamiliarity with e-commerce and Chinese regulation pose two of the biggest challenges to Australian businesses in China. Other challenges include retaining top talent and increasing domestic and foreign competition.

Australian businesses navigating the Chinese regulatory framework report that doing business in China is becoming increasingly complex and businesses are finding it hard to keep up with the constant changes to regulation.

Similarly, most Australian businesses are falling behind their Chinese counterparts in terms of digital technology and e-commerce capabilities. The results also show that there are information gaps when it comes to understanding consumers, branding and product positioning in China. Despite over 80% of Australian businesses claiming that their China technology is on par or more advanced than in other markets, only 16% actually have a detailed digital and e-commerce strategy in place. Australian businesses adopting an effective digital strategy have also indicated they are more likely to be profitable, and more optimistic about their business outlook—signifying that adopting such a strategy is key to success in China.

Is it too late to enter the China market?

As the old Chinese phrase goes, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second-best time is now. It is never too late to enter the Chinese market, as long as you are well-prepared, and have sufficient resources and processes in place to remain flexible to changes in the local regulatory environment and digital technology landscape.

Please contact Stephanie Smith with any questions about the Survey.