US overtakes China in CEO’s growth expectations

The US took back first place from China as the most important national market where companies are looking for growth, according to the benchmark Annual Global CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers of more than 1,300 company leaders from 77 countries.

The CEOs in the survey attribute this to the US’ success since the crash, with GDP 7 percent higher and more jobs created since that period than lost. In China growth has slowed and there is some uncertainty about what the emerging “New Normal” policies of the Chinese government will mean in practice.

But the US and China are still both way ahead of the rest. The US got 38 percent and China 34 percent of CEOs expecting growth from their markets, while the third ranked was Germany with only 19 percent followed by UK, Brazil, India, Japan, Russia, and Indonesia. Companies are now looking for their growth in the mature markets of North America and Europe, and becoming less keen on the BRICS.

Middle East and UAE

When asked where they are looking for growth, 27 percent of Middle East CEOs named the US, 27 percent the UAE, and 22 percent Egypt. The UAE’s ranking was due to the ease of doing business and opportunities, while Egypt’s was due to the new sense of stability that the Al Sissi government has created.

Nonetheless there is an underlying confidence as 64 percent of Middle East CEOs feel that there are more growth opportunities today than there were three years ago, and that figure is slightly up from the 61 percent in last year’s survey.

These opinions from the Middle East and global CEOs were gathered before the current fall in the oil price and so did not take it into account, but Dennis Nally, Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers answered a question from Gulf News commenting that uncertainty in the price has upset corporate plans even if the low price offers new opportunities.

He previously said that “CEO confidence is down in the oil producing nations as a result of the plummeting oil prices. Russian CEOs were the most confident last year, but are the least confident this year. Confidence has slipped among CEOs in the Middle East, Venezuela and Nigeria.”


While the CEOs have major concerns over political and social unrest, there are many more manageable issues closer to the workplace. Over regulation is the leading concern of the CEOs with 78 percent making it their top worry, particularly in sectors like banking insurance, pharma and life sciences, power and utilities, communications, and healthcare.

Over-regulation is closely followed by other concerns: Availability of key skills (73 percent), Government response to fiscal deficit and debt burden (72 percent), Geo-political uncertainty (72 percent), increased tax burden (70 percent), and cyber threats (61 percent).

Nonetheless, the survey showed CEOs to be well aware that their companies needed adaptability and agility to continue to do well, and a sense that they are getting there runs through the survey.

“The changes CEOs are making are now less about sheltering and more about building for the future,” said Nally. “CEOs know that they need to be ready to adapt because the key to competitiveness is to recognise that there is a lot that is out of their control.”

“The confidence in their ability to grow depends on agility when faced with new markets, new consumer trends, new technologies, all of which needs companies to be ready to shift investments and redeploy resources.  For example, a very high 81 percent of CEOs from all sectors consider mobile technologies for customer engagement are strategically important.”