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CEOs will focus on NAFTA region

CEOs will focus on NAFTA region

NYSE survey finds companies will also look to U.S. and China in coming year

By David Weidner, MarketWatch

Aug 14, 2006

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The region covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement will loom large as chief executives across all industries plot their growth in 2007, according to a survey commissioned by the New York Stock Exchange.

The survey, released Monday, found that 78% of CEOs see NAFTA countries including the U.S., Canada and Mexico as the target region for growth. The executives listed the U.S. and China as the top two "strategically important" countries.

CEOs also said moving operations offshore helped the bottom line. Of the executives polled, 41% said they had moved at least some operations off shore, 77% of those said the move was at least "somewhat" successful — 4% said they "failed to achieve" their goals.

Nine of 10 chief executives also said they spend more time on regulatory issues, though they say governance rule changes have brought more engaged board members and greater investor confidence.

Chief executives were polled through the Internet, telephone and mail. Of the more than 2,000 companies contacted, 205 responded including 159 from the U.S. market, 17 from Europe and 16 from Central and South America. The poll was conducted between February and April.