Outlook gloomy for China's SMEs due to fallout from Wuhan virus

Less than 30% of Chinese SMEs have resumed operations, which hurts output

Police officers wearing face masks patrol at a container port in Qingdao.

Police officers wearing face masks patrol at a container port in Qingdao. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China’s economy is struggling to get back on track as less than 30 percent of small and medium enterprises (SME) have resumed operations amid the prolonged coronavirus crisis.

Propping up SMEs is key to maintaining employment rates, said Tian Yulong (田玉龍), chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at a joint cabinet press conference, reported CNA.

He admitted that companies are facing five obstacles to restarting work. These include an extreme load of paperwork related to disease prevention preparedness and restrictions on human movement as a result of lockdown measures.

In addition, disrupted logistics has impeded the restocking of raw materials and delivery of end products. Businesses up and down the supply chain have also failed to resume operations in step with each other.

Meanwhile, SMEs are more likely to suffer from capital strain, which will not be eased until the government-promised financial support kicks in. Confronted with the many challenges to the resumption of work, Tian stressed that SMEs are under pressure to fulfill orders and cope with the consequences.

According to the SME Confidence Index (SMEI) released by Standard Chartered on Monday (Feb. 24), the health of China’s small and medium-sized businesses has declined to a score of 40.5 this month, a record low since the gauge began in 2014, reported Bloomberg.