Letters from China: Spring 2020 editionLetters from ...
China may be a lot closer to getting back to 'normal' than the West, but the effects of the coronavirus outbreak are having a significant impact on economies in the Far East too. Although the first signs of recovery are beginning to show, such as the trade surplus recorded in March, the losses are still considerable. Exports were down on last year by 17 per cent in February and 6.6 per cent in March 2020, while the overall economy shrank 6.8 per cent in the first quarter year-on-year.
Every four months, Wang Lu, director of the local Bremeninvest office, reports from Shanghai on the latest trends, opportunities and developments in China.
The situation in Shanghai
Like any other company, Bremeninvest is very concerned about the health of its employees abroad. Wang Lu is head of the Bremeninvest office in Shanghai, around 700 kilometres from Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak. There are still restrictions in Shanghai, as she tells us:
“Masks have to be worn at all times in public spaces, and most people are still trying to avoid anywhere that is busy. Your body temperature is taken whenever you get on the metro or enter public spaces such as residential areas, parks and shopping centres. Recently, the number of new cases has risen slightly in large urban centres such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou due to an influx of people from other areas.
The crisis is having an impact on the economy, of course, but we appear to be returning to some form of normality. Some restaurants, cafés and gyms have reopened, but cinemas, museums and theatres remain closed. The office block where I work is once again accessible via both main entrances; access was restricted before.
In most places, you now have to show your health code app on your phone if you want to enter somewhere. This app uses a traffic light system to indicate whether you are potentially at risk, and if it is green you may enter. Fortunately, the number of inquiries and the interest in setting up companies in Germany – especially in Bremen, of course – is increasing again, which is a good sign.”
Bremeninvest has other offices abroad, and we have summarised the situation in each location in this article.
How coronavirus is threatening supply chains
Bremen, Germany and Europe have closer economic links to China than ever before. When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, 80 per cent of all countries had a bigger trade volume with the USA than with China. Today, the figure is only just over 30 per cent. These supply chains have been interrupted or seriously affected by the coronavirus crisis, and we take a closer look at this in our article How coronavirus is threatening supply chains (German).
The Chinese community is donating 5,000 face masks to Bremen
Bremen's Chinese community, former Bremen students from China and business people in China have joined forces over the past few days to collect donations of urgently needed protective equipment for Bremen's health services. With the support of Bremeninvest, they have flown in the first partial delivery of a total of 5,000 face masks from China and handed them over to the Hanseatic city's crisis management team.
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