31st May 2023: manufacturing and services activity in May, industrial firms’ profits in Jan-April

This episode covers the Chamber’s newly elected executive committee; manufacturing and services activity in May; and profits of China’s larger industrial firms in the first four months of 2023. From the Chamber side, join the first episode of a new event series on global industrial strategies on 8th June, focussing on the United States’ Chips Act and the global semiconductor ecosystem.


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Read more:

European Chamber AGM:


Official PMI May (in Chinese):


China’s January-April industrial profits (in Chinese):


European Chamber event series: Battling it out – Decoding the Global Industrial Strategy Race



XINHE: Hello and welcome to China Shortcuts,

MARIANN: the European Chamber’s weekly catchup on China’s business landscape.


XINHE: On 24th May, the European Chamber held its Annual General Meeting in Beijing, during which the Chamber’s leadership was elected for the next two years.

MARIANN: Jens Eskelund was elected to serve as Chamber president. He will be accompanied by vice presidents Stefan Bernhart, Miguel Montoya and Bruno Weill at the helm of the Chamber. Members of the Shanghai, South China and Southwest China chapters had previously elected Carlo D’Andrea, Klaus Zenkel and Massimo Bagnasco as their respective chairs, all of whom will also serve as national vice presidents. Xiaobo Zhang was elected for a second consecutive term as treasurer. In his first address to the members, President Eskelund noted that with the diversity of industries and experience that the newly elected executive committee brings to the table, he feels assured that they will continue to deliver high-level services to members.


XINHE: Manufacturing activity in China continued to shrink in May, with the rate of contraction picking up speed from the previous month, contrary to analysts’ expectations that had forecast renewed growth.

MARIANN: The official manufacturing purchasing manager’s index, or PMI, dropped to the lowest level since December, and signalled contraction for the second month in a row. Supply and demand both continued to fall in May, and at a faster pace than in April, with the decrease in new orders steeper than in production. The decline in activity also impacted staffing levels, with manufacturing firms shedding jobs as a result. Despite the worse-than-expected data, companies surveyed by the National Bureau of Statistics reported growing optimism about the business outlook for the year ahead.

While services activity maintained growth in May, the rate of expansion slowed from April, and was slightly below analysts’ forecasts.


XINHE: According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on 27th May, profits of China’s larger industrial firms continued to fall in the first four months of the year amid weak demand and decreasing producers’ prices.

MARIANN: While the rate of decrease narrowed compared to the first quarter, the January-April data still showed the third steepest decline in two years, signalling a 20.6 per cent drop year-on-year. The breakdown of the data indicated that profits fell at an especially steep rate in the private sector and among equity-owned industrial companies. Among the 41 surveyed sectors, profits shrank for 27, with ferrous metal smelting and rolling processing firms taking the biggest hit: a more than 99 per cent year-on-year plunge in profits.


XINHE: Faced with an increasingly unstable geopolitical and economic environment, industrial policy has become a core component on the agendas of the world’s largest three economies – the United States, China, and the European Union. Their strategies and regulations on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies, raw materials and technologies of the future are expected to have profound implications on the global supply and value chains.

MARIANN: The European Chamber is launching an event series under the title ‘Battling it out – Decoding the Global Industrial Strategy Race’, to provide a comprehensive understanding on the industrial strategies being adopted by the world’s three largest economic superpowers and their implications on both state and industry players.

XINHE: Join the first event of the series online on 8th June to find out what implications the US’ CHIPS Act—which was signed into law in August 2022—may have on the global semiconductor ecosystem. Guest speakers will also provide insights on the US-China technology war from the perspective of the EU and European industry, and market analysis.


MARIANN: Thanks for listening. Tune in again next week.

XINHE: In the meantime, please find useful links in the episode notes.

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