Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Both foreign and domestic trade are becalmed by SARS

STAFF WRITER

Local traders cried out for government help to weather the SARS storm yesterday, saying 67 percent companies in the sector are losing business over the deadly virus.

The news comes as the results of a survey conducted between April 29 and May 2 on member of the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei (台北市進出口公會). There were 222 valid respondents to the poll.

Among hard hit SARS industries, 20 percent sell daily necessities, 18 percent deal in electronics, 12 percent are in the textile industry and 12 percent are makers of machinery and parts, according to the survey. Each company lost US$100,000 to US$1 million, on average, the survey showed.

The poll also found that the SARS outbreak reduced trade with China and Europe by 22 percent, Canada and the US by 17 percent and Hong Kong by 15 percent.

"The losses are expected to grow as the SARS epidemic drags on with no sign of it being brought under control," said Lin Shu-hui (林淑惠), an official with the association.

Companies profiting from SARS sell anti-SARS products, such as masks and disinfectants, which have helped some firms pocket over US$100,000, the poll revealed.

An association official said from the results of the poll it could be concluded that SARS had strongly impacted the popular business model where orders are placed in Taiwan and delivery made from China.

Traders use Chinese production facilities to lower costs.

Some Taiwanese production facilities have had to fire up local factories after Chinese orders were shifted to Taiwan.

An overall lack of business travelers has created a major headache for local traders.

"The business slump was mostly due to travel advisory and quarantine measures that scared away foreign buyers from traveling to Taiwan to place orders," Lin said.

Other factors causing the slide including a drop in both local and foreign demand, difficulty obtaining entry visas for some countries, and disputes triggered by delayed deliveries due to SARS.

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