Davos : India has climbed one spot to become the fifth-most attractive market for investments, and business optimism is at record high levels globally even as cybersecurity and climate change have become areas of concern for CEOs, according to a survey.

According to the annual global CEO survey by consultancy major PwC, released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on Monday, India has bumped Japan as the fifth most attractive market in 2018. In 2017, India was at the sixth position. The top market was US, favoured by 46 per cent of global CEOs, followed by China (33 per cent) and Germany (20 per cent). At the fourth spot is the UK (15 per cent). India is at the fifth place with nine per cent. PwC India Chairman Shyamal Mukherjee said backed by definitive structural reforms, the India story has been looking better in the past one year. “Most of our clients are optimistic about their growth. The government has made efforts to address concerns around areas like infrastructure, manufacturing and skilling, although newer threats like cybersecurity and climate change are beginning to play on the minds of our clients,” he noted. As per the report, despite the rising optimism, CEO anxiety is also increasing given the much broader range of business, social and economic threats.

Around 40 per cent of CEOs are ‘extremely concerned’ about geopolitical uncertainty and cyber threats while 41 per cent feel so about terrorism. Other factors for concerns are availability of key skills (38 per cent) and populism (35 per cent). “These threats outpace familiar concerns about business growth prospects such as exchange rate volatility (29 per cent) and changing consumer behaviour (26 per cent),” the survey said. Further, terrorism is seen as among the top ten threats to growth whereas only 20 per cent felt so in 2017.

“The threat of over-regulation remains the top concern for CEOs (42 per cent extremely concerned), and over a third (36 per cent) remain concerned about an increasing tax burden,” it added. Climate change and environmental damage is reported among the top five threats for businesses in Asia Pacific and Western Europe. It is also recognised as a top-five threat for the growth prospects of companies in the energy and utilities, engineering and construction, transport and logistics sectors. Asked if globalisation has helped ‘close the gap between the rich and the poor’, nearly 40 per cent of CEOs responded “not at all”, while 30 per cent said globalisation had not helped ‘avert climate change and resource scarcity’.

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