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European companies "came under crossfire" of the trade war between the United States and China, and only a few are optimistic about the future, The Straits Times reported.

According to the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, the clash between Beijing and Washington does not benefit European companies, contrary to the expectations of some. "Now the trade tensions are seen as another uncertainty on the business environment, something that won't be sorted out quickly whether there is a deal or not," said chamber vice-president Charlotte Roule.

According to the survey, the trade war is one of the main problems for European companies in China (23 per cent), after a slowdown in economic growth in China (45 per cent), the world economy (27 per cent) and rising labor costs in China (23 per cent).

A total of 585 companies took part in the survey. At the beginning of this year, a quarter of European companies in China said that they were already suffering from a rise in import tariffs on Chinese goods from the United States.

Many European companies manufacture goods in China and export them all over the world. A small number of companies (six per cent) have already moved to circumvent US tariffs, or plans to do so. At the same time, Europeans say they share many of the problems raised by the Trump administration.

"The fundamental issues driving the trade war need to be resolved by addressing market access barriers and regulatory challenges while also tackling SOE reform and forced tech transfer," Roule added.

Some 20 per cent of the companies surveyed complained of being forced into technology transfers for the benefit of a Chinese partner. For a quarter (24 per cent), such transfers were currently under way.

This state of affairs was "not acceptable", Roule said.

"The authorities are saying there are no technology transfers any more but this is not what we see in our survey," she said.

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