Coronavirus Disrupts Maritime Industry, Supply Chains - Global Trade Magazine
  February 21st, 2020 | Written by

Coronavirus Disrupts Maritime Industry, Supply Chains

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  • “More factory closures are a near certainty as the Chinese government tries to control the spread of the disease."
  • Global e-retailer Alibaba Group has responded to the coronavirus threat by continuously sending medical supplies.
  • “Up-to-date status reports on their cargo’s progress, or lack of it, are vital to shippers."

With reports that the U.S. military is preparing for a global coronavirus pandemic, companies dependent on China-based production are highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts on the modes of the supply chain, namely in commercial aviation, maritime shipping and overland transport, according to an industry analysis.

“The outbreak has already disrupted some commercial maritime operations and is set to have a much greater impact as international concerns over the virus intensifies,” states Hong Kong-based A2 Global Risk, which supplies its client businesses with a complete picture of global politics, security and trade.

“As large sections of China’s economy grinds to a halt and regional supply-chain mobility becomes tightly restricted, the macro-economic outlook becomes increasingly dire,” A2 Global Risk adds. “More factory closures are a near certainty as the Chinese government tries to control the spread of the disease. Foreign companies heavily reliant on China’s manufacturing sector will be forced to either weather the storm or shift their supply chains to less risky markets.”

TT Club, a UK-based insurance provider, is warning freight forwarders, logistics service providers and other intermediaries of potential unforeseen exposures that may also accrue. “Restrictions due to labor shortages at ports and cancellations of inland transport links within China, constraints in the supply of goods due to factory closures and reduced schedules of air, ocean and rail carriers may expose forwarders to claims arising from delivery delays and cargo deterioration,” states a TT Club briefing that was compiled with the assistance of specialist international lawyers.

“Up-to-date status reports on their cargo’s progress, or lack of it, are vital to shippers,” emphasizes TT Club’s Risk Management Director Peregrine Storrs-Fox. “Forwarders and logistics operators will certainly prove their mettle if they can consistently make customers aware of the ongoing attempts to problem-solve. Careful recording of communication trails detailing such actions will also help in any disputes in the future.”

Global e-retailer Alibaba Group has responded to the coronavirus threat by continuously sending medical supplies, including masks and protective suits, to medical personnel in Wuhan, Wenzhou and Hangzhou, which are at the center of the outbreak and in the most need.

“We are grateful. And we need more help,” states Alibaba, which launched a global sourcing platform for suppliers and distributors of medical goods across the world to join in the campaign.