Imports, packages from China significantly delayed by coronavirus: Importers

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Chinese imports and packages have become significantly delayed, leaving businesses and consumers with potentially no supplies in the future as the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, originating from China, continues to spread around the world, importers told Al Arabiya English.

The coronavirus epidemic began earlier this year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, recently named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, and has infected more than 78,000 people globally. The virus is now more deadly than the 2003 SARS epidemic, having killed nearly 1,500 people, but less deadly than the recent Ebola virus outbreak in Africa, which is estimated to have killed over 11,000.


“It has really affected us … if we place an order right now we have to wait twice as long as before,” said Icy, the owner of a Chinese product import business in Dragonmart, Dubai.

“Cargo companies are also delayed and the cost of cargo has also increased,” she added.

The World Trade Organization warned last week that the global trade in goods will likely stay weak in the coming months due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus in China.

The coronavirus epidemic comes at a delicate time for China’s economy. Chinese and US authorities signed a trade deal on January 16, 2020, to end the ongoing trade war which has frustrated global growth ambitions for the last year.

The US Trump administration has pursued an aggressive trade policy against China as it seeks to readdress the global trade situation. China is a major global exporter, and with vast swathes of the country effectively shut down due to fears of spreading the coronavirus, the crucial flow of goods and trade from the exporting giant have come under threat.

“There is already evidence – albeit anecdotal – that supply chains are being disrupted, including outside China. Furthermore, extended lockdowns in China would have a global impact given the country's importance and interconnectedness in the global economy,” said Moody’s Vice President Madhavi Bokil.

The IMF has warned that the coronavirus epidemic could knock economic growth for 2020. “There may be a cut that we are still hoping would be in the 0.1-0.2 percentage space,” the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, told the Global Women's Forum in Dubai.

Some importers were more upbeat however. “Overall, we are waiting ... we are quite optimistic. Once they have opened the factories, things will be fine,” said Amjad Chaudhry owner of New Toy Zone.

“In the UAE, the government has taken very good initiatives, they're checking, they’re putting people on 14 day [isolation], to make sure that everything is fine,” he added.

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