China Update - March 2020
Things are looking up in China, much of the economic concerns have been related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, there were only 16 infections on Sunday, and 12 of them were considered to be imported cases.
The work that China has done to contain the virus has brought back confidence to the people. On a personal economic level, it seems that people are starting to get back to their normal lives. People are now starting to enjoy public places once again. They are even occasionally taking their face masks off and engaging in normal conversations with friends and family.
Additionally, China has made an announcement that the largest trade expo they hold, The Canton Fair, will still be happening as planned in April.
Recently, people in China were not allowed to dine out in many of their major cities. However, the country is now encouraging higher-ranked officials to once engage in public meals and shopping in order to increase participation in the local economy. Although diners still need to be careful about space and consumers are still cautious, this has led to an increase in e-commerce. There has been a strong increase in sales for Alibaba (alibaba.com). Online shopping was essential to the survival phase, but it seems to be decreasing as more people are going out into the community.
China’s citizens have also started to turn away from issues that are just pandemic-related. The attention on health and medicine has decreased from 48% to 38% over the past few weeks. In contrast, attention to sports and fitness has increased 10%.
It’s been noted that Chinese consumers may be more resilient than similar groups in other markets. It’s looking that while China did poorly in Q1, they are going to lead consumer spending once again in 2020.
Businesses around the world know that the next few months are going to be challenging. In addition to decreased revenue, there will likely be other challenges. Employees who work remotely and have children at home know that productivity will decrease. Exporting to China may be a lower need. Business continuity should be a priority, but those that can invest in China are likely going to reap the rewards due to the strength of the Chinese consumer market. With its market bouncing back and facing less competition from foreign brands, China is taking this opportunity.
The Canton Fair (Import & Export Fair)
As previously noted, not all events have been cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. The spring session of The Canton Fair is still scheduled to move ahead as originally planned. This is the largest trade expo that happens in China each year. The spring exhibition runs from the middle of April to early May. The goal of this event is to help stabilise China’s international trade. It takes place in Guangzhou each year.
The goal of the organisers is not to put people at risk and have encouraged each department to prepare by making changes that will increase safety. The move to keep the event was surprising to many people as the government has spent considerable efforts to prevent the spread.
SIAL China - Rescheduled
Although boasting resilience, not every event taking place in China will go ahead as planned. The largest food innovation exhibition known as SIAL (Asia’s Largest Food Innovation Exhibition) China – www.sialchina.com, has not been cancelled altogether. However, it has been postponed until September 2020. The official website had initially announced that the event would take place in May at the New International Expo Centre.
Although the dates may change, managing directors of the event still report that it will be mainly the same as before. The event will take place in the same location. The decision was only made to change their dates after the exhibitors were provided with a survey asking them about their preference of the event. The overwhelming response was that 97% of the respondents preferred to postpone until September. Event organisers listened.