Logistics firms may get support

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Logistics firms may get support

Korea said Thursday it may provide local logistics firms with financial support as the spread of the new coronavirus has delayed processing of China-bound containers, leading to higher warehouse storage fees.

“The government is mulling providing logistics firms facing business troubles with emergency financial support,” Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said in a meeting with officials from local shipping companies.

Concerns are escalating over the country’s export performance down the road amid the coronavirus crisis, which may weigh down Chinese economic growth and eventually lead to weaker demand for Korean goods.

“As we also expect a shortage of space to store containers here, the government will work closely with related organizations to utilize idle spaces and ease financial burdens of shipping companies,” Sung said.

On Thursday, the number of infected people in China reached 28,000, with a death toll of 563.

Earlier in the day, Korea confirmed four more cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total here to 23, with the latest patients all being placed under quarantine.

Korea also vowed to spare no efforts to maintain the supply of key parts to local manufacturers to ensure they can keep running their plants.

Sung’s remarks came as the supply of wiring harnesses, a key component for automobiles, has been facing hurdles as Chinese factories have been shut down.

“We are reaching out to Beijing and other provincial governments of China to win approval to reopen factories supplying auto parts for Korean carmakers,” Sung said, adding that the country is also hoping for auto parts makers to have their employees work extra hours to maintain a stable supply.

In 2018, Korea reduced the maximum number of weekly working hours to 52 from the previous 68 hours. Still, companies can request a temporary extension in case of disasters and major accidents.

Korea has already given such permission to mask producers.

To brace for the possible fallout from the novel virus, Seoul previously said it will chip in 400 billion won ($378 million) to support exporters potentially facing trouble due to the outbreak.

Despite the concerns, however, Korea says the latest global outbreak of the novel coronavirus has not had a significant impact on Korea’s overall exports for January.

Outbound shipments came to 51.36 trillion won last month, down 6.1 percent from 54.71 trillion won a year earlier, the ministry data earlier showed.

When measured by working days, exports increased 4.8 percent in January to reach 2.4 trillion won per day, marking the first on-year increase in 14 months.

Exports to China moved down 10.5 percent in January from a year earlier to 11.5 trillion won.

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