Coronavirus is a bit like Brexit. On the one hand it’s nothing to worry about (the mortality rate is no greater than for the flu). On the other hand it’s a “global health emergency”, says the WHO.
The biggest concern is, of course, the risk to public health. But it’s also impacting trade, and not just for those exporting to China. A huge range of producers are increasingly reliant on goods (from vitamins to poultry to seafood) that (knowingly or not) either come from or through China. Indeed, the complex global nature of modern trade means the effects of coronavirus could potentially ripple far beyond those doing direct business with China into almost any market.
As we report this week, the British Ports Association is now warning border checks may soon be needed (for people rather than goods). With many retailers and suppliers oblivious to the importance of China to their supply chains, as highlighted by the prison labour scandal, coronavirus is a further reminder they should be looking into their supply chains anyway for Brexit. Almost like a dress rehearsal, really.