Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could affect agricultural exports to China

By Anh Minh   January 29, 2020 | 06:12 pm PT
Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could affect agricultural exports to China
Containers of agricultural products at Lang Son's Tan Thanh border gate. Photo by Vietnam Government Portal/Phan Trang.
The trade ministry warned Vietnamese businesses exporting agricultural products to China to adjust shipping methods amid Wuhan’s deadly new coronavirus outbreak.

The export-import department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade on Wednesday said there’s currently little possibility the deadly new acute pneumonia virus from China’s Wuhan City would have a great impact on the export and import of goods between Vietnam and China.

However, if the epidemic continues, transportation and travel at border gates between the two countries would be limited. According to the department, the flow of goods via border gates will certainly be affected.

The nCoV virus has spread from mainland China to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, France, Canada, Germany and Vietnam. Chinese authorities said 170 people had died of the disease as of Thursday morning. The number of confirmed cases of infection has topped 7,000.

The department said information from China indicates demand for some agricultural products has slowed due to the complicated health situation. Due to strict anti-epidemic measures, transportation of goods between provinces and cities across China was extremely difficult, it was added.

To avoid the spread of the disease, some border gates in northern Lao Cai and Lang Son provinces bordering China will remain closed till February 8. Besides, Huu Nghi Quan border gate in Lang Son will re-open on February 3.

Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung on Wednesday requested the customs sector to tighten control and supervision of people and vehicles from countries affected by the Wuhan pneumonia epidemic.

The customs sector has halted procedures for flights from Vietnam to Wuhan, epicenter of the deadly disease and epidemic-stricken areas across China under Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's direction.

The export-import department recommends Vietnamese businesses, especially those exporting agricultural products to China, immediately change their delivery methods in case goods cannot be received. Local businesses should also expand agricultural exports to other markets or increase domestic consumption to avoid dependence on China.

Agriculture and fisheries products are traditional export items to China, accounting for 20 percent of total export turnover to the market.

China is currently the largest market for agricultural and aquatic products in Vietnam. The main agricultural products exported to China include vegetables, cashews, coffee, rice, cassava products, rubber and aquatic products.

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and China reached nearly $117 billion in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 9.6 percent, according Vietnam Customs.

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