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Sanitation is top priority as firms bid to normalize production work

16/02/2020 16:00 | Share

STRICT sanitation measures have been put in place to ensure normal operation of production as more people look set to resume work today.

Consumer goods and pharma firms have put together strict measures for their production sites and employees.

L’Oreal said its plant in the Suzhou Industrial Park as well as research facilities in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang High-tech Park have resumed operation last week while the Yichang plant in Hubei Province has yet to reopen due to local government regulations.

At its Suzhou plant, online training and tests were mandatory before staff return to work and posters have also been put up inside the facility.

Boehringer Ingelheim said it is keeping a daily record of factory sanitation work and ensures sufficient supply of protective gear.

The German company’s animal health production facility in Nanchang in Jiangxi Province as well as contract manufacturing unit in Zhangjiang resumed operation last week while office staff are working from home.

It has also offered an online transportation permit system for trucks in the Yangtze River Delta region following orders from the Shanghai Transportation Commission to ensure logistics within the delta region run smoothly.

Most chemical firms in the city, such as Covestro, Solvay, and BASF, have resumed work. But, excluding production staff, a majority of office employees still work from home.

Covestro’s integrated production site in Shanghai, which had been operating under a holiday mode during the Spring Festival, switched to a light business mode with reduced capacity on February 10. Materials being produced at the site include polycarbonate, which can be used to produce anti-epidemic supplies such as goggles and thermometers.

The city government has set up guidelines on resumption of production, covering necessary protection conditions and application requirements, according to the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization.

Although the nationwide fight against the novel coronavirus is far from over, enterprises have signed deals on 12 new industrial projects for this year with the Lingang authority in the special area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, with a total investment of more than 20 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion).

The projects include production of battery management system for new energy vehicles and third-generation semiconductors as well as 5G technology applications.

According to the Lingang authority, construction of buildings for these projects will kick off within the year.

More than 600 firms in Lingang have resumed business. By the end of last week, over 30,000 people had returned to work, with precautionary measures ensuring safety.

At Tesla’s factory work resumed on February 10. More than 1,000 workers wear face masks and have their temperature checked as they arrive for work. Three kilometers away, one of the US automaker’s parts suppliers resumed production on the same day.

Farmers, consumers catch the online fever

13/02/2020 16:04 | Share

ZHANG Zhenqiang grows pears in Jilin Province. Over recent years, he’s been selling a small portion of his output online. But this month, he’s been relying more and more on digital sales as farmers like him grapple with disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak.

Since January, wholesale produce markets have been closed and the transportation to urban centers has been restricted. Other challenges include shortages of delivery staff and packaging materials. “Online sales on an average day have climbed to 10,000 orders. This is double the normal amount, which may help cover at least part of my losses,” Zhang said.

An asparagus grower, Li Qiulan, from Qingdao, Shandong Province, is already making online marketing preparations for the next season. “We hope to use this income from online sales to make an early start at resuming normal growing and harvesting so we won’t suffer further losses,” she said.

Some 1 billion yuan (US$140 million) worth of relief funds have been set aside by Alibaba for agricultural companies that have had difficulties reaching urban consumers. “Bridging the gap means creating a win-win solution for food growers and consumers,” said Zhu Xia, senior director of Tmall’s food business.

The e-commerce site under Alibaba said 12,000 tons of agricultural products have been sold via Taobao since last week and it’s expediting distribution of agri-foods from 24 growing zones.

Logistical support has been crucial in getting goods to consumers.

JD.com said it will prioritize distribution to ensure supply of fresh food and also expedite the assessment of online storefronts selling fresh produce.

Special measures like logistics supply and special promotions for agricultural products are also being launched and distributors can enjoy discounts to access cold-storage delivery facilities.

Meicai, a distributor which supplies bulk ingredients to local restaurants, started to allow individual buyers to order from its online shop last week.

Its vegetable prices are cheaper for purchases above 2.5 kilograms to encourage shoppers to buy in larger amounts.

Consultant Sherry Yao, who has been working from home for more than a week, said bulk purchasing is easier for her since she has to prepare meal every day for her family, and online vendors like Meicai are among her top choices. “I can reduce visits to wet markets and hypermarkets by bulk purchasing from online vendors,” she said.

However, some consumers worry that transportation will compromise the quality of fresh food, or that bulk orders are not a viable option for small families or solo shoppers.

“I ordered an online delivery of fruits and vegetables a few days ago, only to find that I had to give away some vegetables to friends nearby,” said a Songjiang District resident surnamed Wang.

Group-buying website Pinduoduo said in January that fruit sales soared by 120 percent from a year ago and staples such as rice, meat and cooking oil increased by 140 percent. On Pinduoduo, more than 280,000 types of agricultural products, from nearly 400 growing areas, are available and 500 million yuan in subsidies are being offered to shoppers.

Mobile World Congress forced into silent mode

13/02/2020 16:04 | Share

ORGANIZERS of the Mobile World Congress said on Wednesday (Spain time) they have canceled the world’s top mobile phone trade fair due to fears stemming from the novel coronavirus that sparked an exodus of industry heavyweights.

The mobile fair is one of the biggest events worldwide to be canceled so far owing to the virus that has killed more than 1,300 people to date.

The announcement came after the GSMA, the mobile trade association that organizes the annual show, met to decide the fate of the event that had been planned to run in Barcelona from February 24 to 27.

“The GSMA has canceled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” a statement said.

It added that the decision was made with “due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country” and that host city parties understood the cancellation.

Just hours before the meeting took place, Vodafone, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Britain’s BT and Rakuten of Japan had pulled out, following in the footsteps of Intel, Facebook, Cisco and China’s Vivo.

Organizers said the cost of canceling the global fair is not yet known.

Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, said yesterday they could not discuss the costs, as it was “early days yet.”

“It’s not about money,” Granryd said in Barcelona.

But a source close to the event had said that organizers were wary of being left with a cancellation bill of about 100 million euros (US$110 million). They faced resistance from authorities about declaring a health emergency in Spain which would allow insurance to cover the costs.

So far, Spain has only registered two confirmed cases of infection, on offshore islands.

The annual congress normally draws more than 100,000 people, including between 5,000 and 6,000 participants from China, organizers say.

But this year, participation was hammered by the viral outbreak which has infected around 59,900 people.

The decision is certain to be a major blow for Barcelona, as the huge trade show was forecast to bring in almost 500 million euros, organizers said.

“It’s the high point of the year,” said Ignacio Arias, manager of the AC Som Marriott hotel which lies very close to the venue where the conference has been held since 2006.

“During the four days of the congress, the hotel is fully occupied with the highest rates of the year. There’s no other week like it,” he said, with his words echoed by fellow hoteliers.

“We were supposed to host the team assembling Sony’s stand but they haven’t turned up. Ericsson has canceled 30 rooms, and Intel and LG have canceled their meeting rooms,” said the manager of another nearby hotel who did not want to give her name.

“It feels like we’ve been working for months for nothing. This year has been pretty sluggish so far and this is just going to finish us off.”

Trade shows have been hit by the virus on several continents, and while Asia’s biggest airshow in Singapore went forward nonetheless, more than 70 exhibitors canceled.

The cancellations began on February 4 when South Korea’s LG Electronics, which occupies one of the largest spaces at the show, said it was pulling out to “remove the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel …”

With the exception of Apple, most major smartphone manufacturers typically present their new products and innovations at the congress.

Before the cancellation, China’s top smartphone maker Huawei as well as its smaller rival ZTE, had pledged their executives and staff would undergo a self-imposed two-week quarantine period, while ZTE said its stand and equipment would be disinfected daily.

The organizers had also sought to reassure exhibitors, saying they would step up security, impose restrictions on visitors and have staff on hand to take visitors’ temperatures.

Full support for foreign business assured

12/02/2020 16:58 | Share

SHANGHAI will ensure support for all domestic and foreign businesses in the city during the coronavirus fight.

It recently issued 28 measures to bolster enterprises during the epidemic and has highlighted the fact that all foreign-funded enterprises will enjoy identical treatment to local businesses.

The city’s commissions of commerce has organized translations of the measures. An English version has been issued and a Japanese version will be released soon, “so as to enable foreign enterprises, especially foreign executives, and foreign investors to better understand the policy,” Liu Min, commission deputy director, said.

Meanwhile, the commission has issued a list of more than 140 foreign enterprises to financial authorities so that they can enjoy relevant preferential financing policies.

“We are also actively helping foreign enterprises to resume work and production,” Liu said.

Stocks extend rally as tech firms soar

12/02/2020 16:58 | Share

CHINESE stocks extended their rally on Wednesday, as almost all sectors performed strongly on the day.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed up 0.87 percent to 2,926.90 points, while the smaller Shenzhen Component Index surged 1.60 percent to 10,940.80 points. The blue chip CSI300 Index advanced 0.81 percent to finish at 3,984.43 points.

Tech stocks led the gains, with solar battery shares surging by 8.85 percent and electric component shares increasing by 5.74 percent.

Twenty-three firms related to photovoltaics hit the daily limit of 10 percent. Ningbo Solartron Technology Co Ltd, Shenzhen Topraysolar Co Ltd, Cecep Solar Energy Co Ltd and Jiawei Renewable Energy Co Ltd all hit the daily cap.

The gains were attributed to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently tweeted that his photovoltaic business will soon enter the Chinese and European markets.

As a result, shares related to photovoltaics surged in both the A-share and Hong Kong markets.

Only steel shares were down, losing 0.17 percent.

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