Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Page 10 News List

Amazon pulls out of telecoms conference

Rueters, BERLIN and MADRID

A woman works at an Amazon.com Inc fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, on Feb. 5 last year.

Photo: AFP

Amazon.com Inc has pulled out of this month’s Mobile World Congress because of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, in another blow to one of the telecom industry’s biggest gatherings, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona.

“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about the new coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.

Amazon had planned a significant presence through its cloud computing arm AWS, which was due to host a full-day conference track on the first day of the event.

The online retailer is the fourth company to pull out of the annual gathering this week, following South Korea’s LG Electronics Co, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson AB and US chipmaker Nvidia Corp.

The Feb. 24 to 27 event will go ahead as planned, organizer the GSMA telecoms industry association said in a statement on Sunday before Amazon said it was pulling out, adding that it would tighten health precautions to guard against the 2019-nCoV outbreak.

No visitors will be allowed to attend from China’s Hubei Province, where the 2019-nCoV outbreak started, while visitors from China must prove they have been outside the country for two weeks prior to the event, GSMA said.

About 5,000 to 6,000 visitors typically come from China to the world’s premier telecoms gathering, where companies spend millions on stands and hospitality to fill their order books for the year ahead.

Chinese companies Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and ZTE Corp (中興) have said they would attend, ordering China-based staff to self-isolate ahead of the event to ensure they are free of the illness, and drafting in European staff to cover for those stranded.

The death toll from the outbreak in China rose to 908 as of the end of Sunday, the National Health Commission said yesterday.

The virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, according to a Reuters count based on official reports, infecting more than 330 people outside China.

More than two dozen large trade fairs and industry conferences in China and overseas have been postponed or hit by travel curbs and concerns about the spread of the virus, potentially disrupting billions of dollars worth of deals.

The Singapore Airshow from today to Sunday is proceeding, but the exhibition center is pockmarked with empty spaces that would have held displays from Chinese companies and others skipping the show because of the epidemic.

The air show’s organizers on Sunday said they were expecting more than 930 companies from 45 countries and 45,000 trade attendees — down from the 54,000 at the last show in 2018.

They also plan to limit public attendance.

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