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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MAKKAH: Saudi businesses have given mixed responses over the possibility of a decrease in trade between Saudi Arabia and China due to the recent coronavirus outbreak.
Some are worried for the future, others are blaming media scaremongering for overblowing the scale of the epidemic, and some say Beijing’s handling of the situation, with health care infrastructure already in place, will head off the spread of the condition.
“What is currently happening is an unjustified media amplification aimed at harming the pillars of China’s economy in favor of other economies,” said businessman Khalid Al-Shulail, an investor in production chains, medium-sized industries and construction materials.
“The health crisis is centered in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The impact could be limited to an increase in transport and shipping prices,” he said.
“All that is happening is the revival of old scenarios that happened with the SARS and swine flu epidemics. These are economic conflicts aimed at disrupting the growth of the Chinese economy as there are competing economies greatly benefitting from this situation,” he added.
However, Mohamed Fadl Al-Rahman, owner of Al-Hijaz Opticals chain, stated that the prolonging of the situation would damage his business.
“The primary impact started to become clear as businessmen stopped traveling to China and were unable to follow up on the updates of their fields,” he told Arab News, adding that accelerating infection rates now threatened the movement of goods because employees in many Chinese cities were staying at home.
“I have canceled a flight in early February due to health concerns and warnings I have received from my friends,” Al-Rahman said, noting that he would suffer significant losses if the situation persisted.
Abdulrahman Al-Maliki, a ceramics, porcelain and sanitary materials importer, said that he was waiting for goods to arrive, expressing his concern at the epidemic’s spread to other major Chinese cities.
“I fear that trade exchanges will stop, become longer or more complicated. We have all these obstacles in mind and their impact will be significant. We might resort to acquiring our needs from other markets, but not before suffering losses worth millions of riyals,” said Al-Maliki. China, he added, was the largest supplier of goods to the world, saying the value of Saudi-Chinese commercial exchanges exceeded $65 billion.
Abdulrahim Al-Andijani, owner of Beit Al-Arous shops, was bullish about the future of Saudi-Chinese trade.
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