China-ASEAN Monitor: Malaysian durian exports to China slows to a halt due to COVID-19 outbreak

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Economy, Investment and Trade


Malaysian durian exports to China slows to a halt due to COVID-19 outbreak
(21 February 2020) Malaysian exports of frozen durian to its primary market of China has trickled to a halt in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A shortage of labour and electricity power outlets in backed-up Chinese ports have disrupted shipments of Malaysian durians. Malaysia is the world’s second-largest exporter of durians in the world after Thailand, having shipped US$38.61 million worth of the fruit to China in 2018. China normally accounts for 79% of Malaysia’s frozen durian market. One top durian exporter claimed it stands to lose up to US$3.58 million in the second quarter of 2020 if normal shipments does not resume soon.
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Indonesian manufacturing industry expected to be impacted by coronavirus outbreak
(24 February 2020) Indonesia’s manufacturing sector is expected to be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in China. This is due to the expected halt to imports of Chinese capital goods and raw materials for the manufacturing sector. The government expects the impact to be felt around March 2020, due to a two to three-month lag. Indonesia imported an estimated US$10 billion worth of machinery and mechanical appliances from China every year. The secretary of the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs stated that the country’s inventory of raw materials for its manufacturing industry is expected to run out within the next few weeks. Indonesian imports from China in January 2020 were already down 4.6% year-on-year.
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Singaporean companies with production facilities in China hit by COVID-19 outbreak
(24 February 2020) Singaporean-listed companies with production facilities in China have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Although businesses were allowed to resume operations starting 10 February, quarantines and traffic restrictions mean that production supply chains will take time to reach normal capacity. Credit Suisse projected a 15% shortfall in production for the first quarter of 2020. Among the Singaporean companies impacted include computer parts distributor Powermatic Data Systems, precision components producer Broadway Industrial Group and precision metal part maker InnoTek.
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Singapore to ease hiring rules for Chinese workers to deal with labour shortage
(26 February 2020) Singapore intends to loosen restrictions on Chinese workers holding work permits to help manufacturing and services industries that have been hit by labour disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. For a six-month period starting 2 March, the Ministry of Manpower will allow companies to hire Chinese workers already in the country, with the permission of their existing employees. This is because some companies are currently facing labour shortages due to travel restrictions from China, while others have excess workers due to low demand. The government hopes to help transfer excess Chinese workers to companies that require them.
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Border trade between Myanmar and China decline by US$209 million
(25 February 2020) Bilateral border trade between Myanmar and China declined by US$209 million year-on-year from 23 January to 18 February, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The value of border trade in the border trade zones of Muse, Chinshwehaw, Lweje, and Kanpiketi totalled some US$270 million in the period, a drop from US$479 million achieved in the same period in 2019. Daily trade in the border trade zones declined to US$1 million and US$2 million, from US$10 million and US$14 million before the outbreak. Manufacturers have also been affected due to a shortage of raw materials being imported from China.
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