Coronavirus: China is slowly returning to normality

Except in Wuhan, a. hartrodt has opened all offices, supply chains are getting back on track.

While the coronavirus is currently spreading rapidly in Europe, the peak has been passed in China. "With the exception of Wuhan, all of a. hartrodt's other 13 offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are open," says Jan Bülck, Managing Director Hong Kong & South China at a. hartrodt in Hong Kong. According to German Industry and Commerce (GIC) in Hong Kong, for many companies from the special administrative zone with production partners in mainland China, "the supply chains are gradually getting back on track". Many companies reported a "production level of 70 to 80 percent", some of them are back to their normal capacity.

Video Conferencing and E-Learning

While goods traffic is flowing between Hong Kong and mainland China, people have to comply with quarantine regulations in both directions since the beginning of February. Because it is considerably more difficult to meet customers in South China or Shanghai, for example, a. hartrodt uses video conferences. According to Bülck, the two trainees in Hong Kong also spend "one and a half days a week on e-learning because the vocational school is closed".

Port operations slowly restarting

According to GIC figures, most companies in mainland China expect production to be back to 100 percent by the end of March. "Certain components and spare parts from sub-suppliers are still causing problems, but the overall situation looks much more positive than in the weeks prior," reports GIC. Bülck observes that operations in the ports are also slowly restarting. Backlog is being cleared, but there is still a shortage of truck drivers. Note: "In some cases the ports have imposed a congestion surcharge, for example for reefer containers in Shanghai,". The manager expects "increasing volumes to leave China in the second half of March". At the same time, however, he still expects carriers to cancel ship departures (blank sailings), in addition to schedule changes as of April 1.

In the case of airfreight, a. hartrodt has to contend with significantly reduced capacities at the world's largest aircargo hub in Hong Kong. The airline Cathay Pacific alone has parked over half of its fleet at its home base. As a result, according to Bülck, there is currently "an increased demand" for sea-air traffic and rail freight to Europe. The handling of this service could "change daily" due to the "increased number of flight cancellations".

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