There is hardly any possibility of a major impact of the virus on export-import activities
The supply chain has not experienced much disruption because of the coronavirus outbreak, said Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on Wednesday.
There is hardly any possibility of a major impact of the virus on export-import activities between Bangladesh and China in the days ahead, he said while briefing the media on "Novel coronavirus and overall situation" at the National Press Club in the capital.
"Businesses have reopened in most cities of China, except Wuhan, after the end of the Chinese New Year holidays which were extended amid the coronavirus outbreak. And suppliers have started sending shipments. So there is nothing to worry," Li said.
Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, is a small city with a population of around 10 million. There are not many factories and business establishments in the city. The goods Bangladesh imports mainly come from other cities where businesses have almost returned to normalcy, he added.
According to Bangladesh customs data, imports from China fell by 22 percent year-on-year in January and by 38 percent in the first eight days of February this year.
Replying to a query from journalists about the drastic fall, the Chinese envoy said, "It is true…China stopped its business activities by extending the New Year holidays so that it could contain the novel coronavirus outbreak by restricting public movement and large gatherings."
The arrival of businesspeople in China dropped to some extent because of the virus which also contributed to the fall in the country's exports, the Chinese ambassador noted.
Gazi Golam Mortuza, president of the Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries, also claimed that Bangladesh's import from China had not felt a big impact from the coronavirus outbreak yet.
"Bangladeshi businessmen brought raw material and other goods required for all the sectors, including readymade garments, in advance as they do every year before the beginning of the Chinese New Year holidays. So, they already have enough stocks," he added.
"But if the coronavirus situation continues to get worse, we do not know what will happen with regard to the import of goods," he added.
Replying to a question, the Chinese ambassador said,"Only 10 percent of Chinese workers went back home for the holidays. So their absence will not affect the ongoing projects in Bangladesh."
The supply of necessary machinery will continue as usual, he added.