China loses its allure
Life is getting tougher for foreign companies. Those that want to stay will have to adjust
Jan 25th 2014 | From the print edition
ACCORDING to the late Roberto Goizueta, a former boss of The Coca-Cola Company, April 15th 1981 was “one of the most important days…in the history of the world.” That date marked the opening of the first Coke bottling plant to be built in China since the Communist revolution.
The claim was over the top, but not absurd. Mao Zedong’s disastrous policies had left the economy in tatters. The height of popular aspiration was the “four things that go round”: bicycles, sewing machines, fans and watches. The welcome that Deng Xiaoping, China’s then leader, gave to foreign firms was part of a series of changes that turned China into one of the biggest and fastest-growing markets in the world.
For the past three decades, multinationals have poured in. After the financial crisis, many companies looked to China for salvation. Now it looks as though the gold rush may be over.
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