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12 February, 2020 10:48:23 AM

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The impact of coronavirus on Bangladesh’s economy

Bangladeshi importers who import many products from that particular province will have to find alternative suppliers or wait
Sheikh Iraj
The impact of coronavirus on Bangladesh’s economy

Whether we agree or not but the recent outbreak of coronavirus has speared fear in the hearts of millions of people across the globe. It is already threatening to hurt the world financial system including ours. One might ask how exactly this virus is going to affect our economy? First of all many of our manufacturers or rather industries be it garments, steel, cement, plastic, electronics, food, medicine, etc import raw materials from different areas of China. In this critical situation, our manufactures are in deep fear as when China may reopen completely. Many Chinese companies might miss the lead time to ship goods on time and that will certainly harm our local industries. Probably the uncertainness on the Chinese supplier’s side will make the cost of goods to increase. The Chinese government itself has restricted travel ban on its citizens in certain provinces. We are coming across news and videos of emptily Chinese streets. We can’t say for sure how authentic these information are, but these are certainly fueling the fear factor among people even more.     

A good per cent of our woven fabric material comes from China and naturally if goods do not arrive on time, the export of certain garment items will be affected. If we look at the other Bangladeshi importer's point of view the Wuhan province of China is renowned for motorcycle accessories among other hundreds if not thousands of other products. Bangladeshi importers of motorcycle accessories who import from that particular province will have to find alternative suppliers or wait. Small courier companies, who actually operate under the pretense of import house, are not able to import goods from China as well. Basically such companies have warehouse and Bangladeshi people in China, they collect goods from all over China, and ship to Bangladesh by sea and air. The law authority and other bodies concern should check the legitimacy of running the business they are doing.     

China produces literarily anything we can think of. It will be difficult to find any country that does not import goods from China. For example, India and China are arch rivals since the Indochinese war but if you go to India, in many Indian cities one will find different Chinese products. China has transformed itself since Chairman Mao’s time at a nuclear speed through sheer hard work, education, innovation and by developing skilled manpower. There is a joke that if you are looking for anything that only can be found in the heavens, try China first.

Can one imagine what devastation coronavirus might cause if it enters Bangladesh? Let us think for a moment what the Chinese people are going through. Even though China is one-party state whose main power is their economy, they are afraid and deserve world’s help. According to the report published in this newspaper, a good number of Chinese nationals are working on several mega projects including Padma Bridge and Payra Power Plant in Bangladesh.

The authorities concerned with these projects assume if the coronavirus situation does not recover early enough, then it will cause a halt of these megaprojects. Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak has impeded the commercial commissioning of Payra Power Plant in Patuakhali. The Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited, which is implementing the country's largest coal-fired project and concern authority can’t say for sure when it will be able to commission the project.

Besides these mega projects a lot of Chinese money is invested in our country in various trade deals. We need to make sure those investments are protected for our own interests.

The Chinese government is pumping billions just to tackle their economy. Regarding the monetary future, there are different versions rather statement, for example, China is saying they will strongly come through this crisis and soon everything will be normal. The US and its allies are looking at the situation from different view point and saying the opposite.  So far this deathly virus has claimed lives of more than 800 and everyday the death toll raise, it has also infected over 20000 people only in China. The virus started to spread across China by December last year, but for some dubious reasons it came to the world’s media attention a month later. Coronavirus has spread is such an alarming rate that it forced the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency. Even governments like Russia who has extremely friendly bilateral relationship with China have called for travel restrictions and closed their border with China.

Now we have stopped the on-arrival visa of the Chinese for 1 month, excepts some exceptions. Counties around the world are taking more caution in their ports and so are we. Gadgets which are now in use just to check the body temperature, can’t really detect a person has the virus or not, thus the use of better technological equipment to identify the virus and more vigilance is needed. With everyone’s effort we must try to restrict the virus from entering our country and then we can expect the trade between the two counties to normalize.    

Chinese industries are taking more time to reopen since the whole of China is in a way locked down. The Chinese laborers who visit their hometowns during their biggest festival can't come back to the cities and can’t join their workstation. Meanwhile our local importer especially those who are Nawabpur based will and might already is facing a shortage of various products and raw materials.

However, this reporter fears the economic impact of this world epidemic will continue to suffer countries like Bangladesh for months to come.

The Chinese have already invested a lot in our country and plans to quantify those figures significantly in the future. In our capital, some people have become so overcome by greed that, they have tripled the rate of face musk overnight. Their physiology is simple, it is to make as much extra money they can while not only our ally China is in grave danger but our own citizens safety is at stake. We saw the fiasco that happened with salt and now its face musk.

The top-cats who are associated with such acts should be brought under justice, or least forced to take a course on humanity. At this critical time when the world awaits the quick breakthrough of an antidote to combat coronavirus, the best we can do is we remain patients, secure our borders, create more awareness among the people, although we still have no coronavirus affected person in Bangladesh. We must remain unwearied; find alternative ways to make sure the supply of the goods continues.    

The writer is a journalist working for

The Independent

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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