As the Coronavirus continues to make headlines worldwide, and with China suffering the brunt of the outbreak, it’s only a matter of time before the interconnected global economy feels the repercussions.
Dr. Wei-Chung Wang, professor of economy at Juniata College, as well as the vice president of global marketing and strategy of the software company Kdan Mobile, said it’s inevitable that China will experience economic hardship.
“It’s been predicted that during the first and second quarter China’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will tank, and I have no doubt about that,” he said.
Kdan Mobile, though headquartered in Taiwan, has operation in China, and he regularly follows news that most Americans can’t.
“I speak Mandarin Chinese, and the main sources that you get in the United States are more well-rounded, but from the Asian angle it’s taken much more seriously. You don’t see the news outlets here pounding the same level of seriousness. That’s an interesting difference,” he said. “We don’t even know if the numbers we’re seeing for those infected are correct anymore.”
The current worldwide death toll for the coronavirus is currently at 1,359 with more than 60,000 confirmed cases.
Wang’s company has already been impacted.
“The software company I oversee has part of its operations in China, and they just resumed work this past Monday after being off due to the outbreak. Lots of small to mid-size businesses are struggling because of the fixed costs incurred, and especially because of no sales revenue coming in because of Coronavirus,” he said.
The U.S. may have managed to stave off significant financial hardship after changing trade policy in recent years.
“The U.S. absolutely lucked out because of the current trade policy and the tariffs and the ongoing trade talks with China,” said Wang. “The U.S. effectively was able to reshuffle the supply chain, so a lot of factories and companies have been moving away from China. We have a lot of companies that have moved their companies to southeast Asian countries. Some have even moved from China to Mexico with the USMCA (the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement) trade deal recently signed.”
Wang said this isn’t to say that the U.S. economy won’t be affected by China’s misfortunes.
“Having said that, if you look at international economy as a whole no country can live independently of any other country. Obviously we rely on the Chinese businesses to support a lot of consumer goods, and that’s going to hit everyone at some point,” said Wang.
Wang went into a CVS Pharmacy recently to check the availability of what now must be the most in-demand item in China.
“Yesterday, just out of curiosity, I went in to see if there were any available face masks, and there weren’t any. Where did those face masks go? To max out the face mask production in China is really something. All the companies could produce 20 million face masks a day and that’s still just 1/70th of their population,” he said.
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