Global supply chain disruptions from coronavirus will pressure China’s trade

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global supply chains will pressure Chinese exporters and importers as they look to pick up the pace of business resumptions amid fewer reported disease cases.

But authorities will act to stabilize China’s foreign trade, Li Xingqian, director of foreign trade at the Commerce Ministry, told reporters in an online briefing, adding that they would support Chinese firms to expand imports of key raw materials to cope with the supply chain disruptions.

“Over the short-term, the impact (of the coronavirus) on global economy and supply chains cannot be avoided and the global growth faces certain pressure, which would affect the business resumption of China’s foreign trade companies and their ability to secure new orders,” said Li.

The recovery in factory activity has been accelerating, said Li, but global uncertainties are growing.

The coronavirus spread has been slowing in mainland China, a result of weeks of travel restrictions and quarantine measures imposed to control the movement of people and traffic, including the virtual lockdown of Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic.

But these efforts have proven costly. Factory activity contracted at the fastest pace on record, both official and private surveys showed. China’s exports contracted sharply in the first two months of the year, and imports declined.

Beijing has since ordered businesses outside of Hubei to resume production as soon as possible, while more businesses have reopened in recent weeks as containment measures are eased, analysts do not expect activity to return to normal levels till April.

China had eight new coronavirus infections in Hubei province on Wednesday, the first time the region has recorded a daily tally in single digits.

(Reporting by Jing Xu, Stella Qiu and Se Young Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christian Schmollinger)

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