HINDERANCE

China calls for removal of 'unnecessary' trade restrictions

The virus has now infected more than 80,000 globally, killing at least 2,700

In Summary

•Through its Ministry of Commerce(MOFCOM), China says it will strengthen communication and coordination with economic and trade partners

•According to the Embassy, some 90 per cent of major enterprises in eastern China's Zhejiang Province have resumed production

Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) waiting to be exported are seen at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China April 5, 2018. /REUTERS
Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) waiting to be exported are seen at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China April 5, 2018. /REUTERS

China has now appealed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) members to remove “unnecessary restrictions” which have affected trade between China and World.

This is in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which has cut flights to mainland china with shipping lines avoiding ports in the country, as the virus kill at least 2,700 people with more than 80,000 infections globally.

Through its Ministry of Commerce(MOFCOM), China says it will strengthen communication and coordination with economic and trade partners.

The ministry “calls on WTO members to remove unnecessary restrictions as soon as possible, in order to create a favourable international trade environment and jointly safeguard the development of global supply chains,” the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Commerce will facilitate more foreign companies in resuming work and production in order to stabilise the global supply chain,” it added.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) believes that China will maintain stable economic growth and meet this year's goals.

According to the Embassy, some 90 per cent of major enterprises in eastern China's Zhejiang Province have resumed production.

The same barometer in Jiangsu, Shandong, Fujian, Liaoning, Guangdong and Jiangxi Provinces has surpassed 70 per cent.

This comes as businesses in Kenya remain uncertain of the future in the wake of a drastic drop in business patterns with China, the country's top import market source.

Data from the Kenya Trade Network Agency(KenTrade), which oversees the country's trading platform-Single Window System, already shows a 38.7 per cent drop in the value of imports from China in January.

The agency's data shows the value of imports from China in January dropped to Sh54.9 billion, compared to Sh89.6 billion in January 2019.

Clearing agents have reported reduced activities on imports from China, Kenya's biggest source where a total of Sh324.9 billion worth of goods came from between January and November last year, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data shows.

“Volumes have reduced and iff the situation persist, we are likely to see a further drop on imports from China,” Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association chairman Roy Mwanthi told the Star.

The virus was officially confirmed on January 7, before the World Health Organisation declared it a global emergency on January 30.

Hundreds of factories in China have remained closed as a control measure.

Small traders are staring at grim days according to Nairobi Importers and Small Traders Association chairman Samuel Karanja.

“Most of us get goods from China, which we can’t do now,” he said.

Most affected businesses according to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry are importers of raw material for manufacturing, clothing and textile, plastic and other fast-moving goods, sanitary goods, beauty products, and electronics.

“Businesses are running out of stock and they will be forced to either source from other markets or suspend operations,” KNCCI Mombasa chapter CEO James Kitavi said.

Kenya receives at least two to three ships every week which have either originated from China or called at Ports in China en route to Africa.

Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency says with China being a leading supplier and purchaser of goods and services, the virus effects will cause economic shock.

“We hope that the menace will be curtailed as soon as possible so that the economies can progress normally,” CEO Peter Biwott said.

Meanwhile, he has called for aggressive diversification of markets with a focus on Africa, as Kenya remains key in unlocking economic potential through trade.