|'Good times are over' fears cloud European businesses: survey
European businesses fear the "good times are over'' in China, a survey showed Thursday, citing the country's slowing economic growth, rising labor costs, falling profits, regulatory hurdles and pollution.
The Business Confidence Survey 2014 report, released by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and consultancy Roland Berger, showed firms have become increasingly pessimistic as the growth decelerates, AFP reports.
"Business is already tough and it is getting tougher,'' the report said. ''This is leading many to the conclusion that the good times are over.''
The survey comes as China's once double-digit annual growth rates have eased in recent years, sitting in the mid-seven percent range as its leaders try to pivot the economy away from relying on exports and big-ticket public investments.
But while top officials say they welcome the weaker rates as part of the drive to a more sustainable growth model, the report said the slowdown ''surpassed rising labor costs as the number one perceived challenge for future business in China''.
Labor unrest and tensions over wages have increasingly bedeviled foreign companies in China in recent years, spurring some to seek cheaper and more welcoming locales.
Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber, told reporters: "Of course, it's no major surprise if you are experiencing growth in the last 10-20 years of 10 percent or more in GDP (gross domestic product) and it will go down to seven percent that you feel that business has become more difficult.''
The survey, based on responses from 552 European businesses in China, found that 68 percent of large companies -- defined as those with more than 1,000 employees -- said doing business had become harder over the past two years.