A clouded outlook for export orders and a tight market for skilled labour are the key growth constraints worrying mainland and Hong Kong companies. In a survey by accounting firm Grant Thornton of about 7,200 companies from 32 countries - including 300 on the mainland and 250 in Hong Kong - 50 per cent of mainland companies identified a shortage of export orders as the factor that worried them most while 36 per cent of Hong Kong respondents voiced the same concerns. Grant Thornton's principal and head of risk management Patrick Rozario said mainland companies were concerned that overseas buyers may cut down orders as a result of increasing production prices. 'The yuan has risen 8 to 10 per cent against the US dollar, while the costs of land, labour, raw materials and energy are also rising,' Mr Rozario said. More Japanese companies (59 per cent) expressed the same concerns over a slowing of export demand, while companies in Thailand (54 per cent) and Taiwan (46 per cent) were also worried about the outlook for export demand - versus a global average of 29 per cent. The survey also showed that a lack of skilled labour was a big worry to company bosses, with 44 per cent of mainland respondents saying they could not find enough skilled labour. Hong Kong ranked 20th with 31 per cent of companies saying they experienced difficulties finding skilled workers. Fifty-eight per cent of mainland firms said they expected to hire more staff this year, ranked the fourth-highest in all 32 countries surveyed, after India at 74 per cent, the Philippines at 70 per cent and Armenia at 67 per cent. Hong Kong ranked 13th with 44 per cent of respondents saying they planned to hire more staff. In the area of corporate governance, the survey showed Hong Kong companies were less concerned about tightening internal controls than their counterparts on the mainland but Mr Rozario said this might have been because mainland companies put a different interpretation on the survey question. The survey found 74 per cent of mainland companies planned to tighten internal controls, higher than the 66 per cent in Hong Kong. However, Mr Rozario said the mainland companies believed internal control meant tightening supervision on work processes, which is different from the western and Hong Kong interpretation that it meant measures to combat fraud and risk. About 33 per cent of Hong Kong companies reported they had appointed non-executive directors, versus 31 per cent of mainland companies. Hong Kong firms ranked first in the world in terms of the widespread use of business plans, with 89 per cent of firms reporting they had such planning in place, though only 48 per cent of companies reporting they had succession planning in place.