Import business under threat as COVID-19 shuts world’s factory

“The last time I got a consignment from China was in November 2019. I need to make an order, but because of the Coronavirus issue I have to hold on and see what will happen with China. Prices are beginning to go up because people cannot get their goods from the various factories in China, and this has affected us badly,” an importer from China, Hajia Muina Buari, told the B&FT.

Such has been the story of many importers who ply their trade in the world’s factory hub, China. Ever since the Corona Virus disease (COVID-19) struck the Asian country, most Ghanaian importers have found it difficult to replenish their stock – as most businesses in China have shut down to prevent rapid spread of the disease.

Hajia Muina, quoted earlier in this story, is an importer of electrical products from China. She said the Corona Virus disease has resulted in the depletion of their stock, leaving them with no idea of when to expect full business activities to resume.

Similar sentiments are expressed by another trader who imports musical instruments from China, Richard Amamoo, who said the disease has dealt his business and others a big blow as his kind of business is not one that will allow him to make purchases online and still guarantee the quality of goods when shipped.

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“We have run out of some stock. I received goods in December 2019 and we have sold them; the majority of goods have finished so we have to replenish them, but it has become very difficult. The impact is huge. Getting the right goods to sell now is becoming very difficult.

“You are going to import at risk if you sit here and say you are importing online; because if you don’t travel there, you won’t even know the new items available on the market. Bargaining is also another issue. Face to face bargaining is always better. So, as for the effect, you cannot quantify it. If things continue in this line for the next two-three months, a lot of people will be out of business,” he said during an interview with B&FT.

For Hajia Muina, it is time to look to markets other than China to trade with – even though that may come at a higher cost: “I have now planned to go to Dubai and see if I will get some of the products to buy”.

Currently, more than 105,500 cases have been reported worldwide, with China recording more than 80,800 cases and over 3,100 deaths.

The World Bank Group is making available an initial package of up to US$12billion in immediate support to assist countries coping with health and economic impacts of the global outbreak. This financing is designed to help member-countries take effective action to respond to and, where possible, lessen the tragic impacts posed by the COVID-19 (coronavirus).

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