Looking ahead with caution

PwC's 22st CEO Survey

CEOs’ concerns about a potential slowdown of the global economy growth rate translates into diminishing trust in the performance of their own organisations, both in the short- and medium-term, and this trend is manifest across the world.

35% of business executives worldwide are very confident about their own organisations’ revenue growth prospects over the next 12 months, down from 42% in 2018. 

CEOs in Romania and Central and Eastern Europe generally share the opinion of their counterparts worldwide about a better year ahead for their businesses. The percentage of respondents in Romania who are very confident about the revenue growth prospects of their own organisations is down to 32% from 38% last year and 52% in 2017.

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CEOs’ dwindling optimism has an impact on expansion plans outside their home territory. Given the volatile global economy and political hindrances to globalisation, business executives seem less certain about their plans for expansion outside their domestic markets. Expansion is becoming uncertain, with 15% of the respondents worldwide saying they “don’t know” when asked about the top three most attractive countries – outside their home territory – for the growth prospects  of their organisation over the next 12 months. The percentage of undecided business executives is even higher in Central and Eastern Europe (20%) and in Romania (35%). This could account for the overall drop in the percentage of CEOs expressing an interest in expansion to any of the top foreign markets. Governments could see this as an opportunity to show businesses that their own countries are open and attractive for business.

Worldwide, the US is still a top market for growth, but China, still ranked second, has narrowed last year’s gap. CEOs continue to see the US as the number one market for the growth prospects of their organisations, despite the sharp decline in the percentage of respondents mentioning it (27%, compared to 46% last year). For China also the percentage of CEOs who see it as an attractive market goes down to 24% from 33% in 2018.

Two European countries come next in the top of attractive investment markets for businesses - Germany (13%, down from 20% last year) and the United Kingdom (8%, down from 15%). India, which has recently outranked China in the ranking of fastest-growing large economies, is the high performer in this year’s survey and makes it to the top five of the markets expected to generate growth for businesses, according to CEOs’ responses around the world (8%, slightly down from 9%).

The US also sees a significant decline in the ratings of CEOs in Central and Eastern Europe (to 18% from 37% in 2018). That means Germany has again become the perceived best market for growth, although the percentage of CEOs naming it as attractive for revenue growth has decreased to 28% from 35% last year. The percentage of CEOs naming China has also dropped, although to a lesser extent, as China still ranks third in the list of growth potential markets (18%, on a par with the US). As with the preceding survey, these countries are the top three attractive markets seen by CEOs worldwide and in Central and Eastern Europe, but in a different order. 

According to the opinions of business executives in Romania, Germany has been the top destination for business growth (with 30% of the respondents naming it, down from 43% last year) for years. France follows in a very distant second place this year (12%), then the US (10% compared to 41% last year), with the UK and Bulgaria also mentioned by 10% of respondents. 

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Ionut Simion

Country Managing Partner, Romania

Cristian Tomescu

Manager, Marketing and Business Development , Romania

Tel: +40 21 225 3547

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