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British Business in China Assess the Impact of the Coronavirus on Business Operations

21st February 2020



10 February 2020, Beijing—Last week the British chambers of commerce in China surveyed our members on the impact of the novel coronavirus pneumonia on their operations in China. The survey was conducted between Wednesday 5th February and Friday 7th February and received responses from 126 British companies.

Responses reflect the full range of British businesses of all sizes and operating across a broad range of sectors. Gathering responses from businesses operating in cities all over China, the survey is national in its spread.

The survey finds that:

  1. The coronavirus outbreak has caused severe disruptions to the operations of British business in China. 97% of respondents report a negative impact on their operation from the virus, with the majority (54%) experiencing a significant negative impact.
  2. These issues are being widely felt by companies in both goods and services industries and among businesses across the country. Companies are also experiencing general financial challenges (36%), costs from HR compliance (29%) and a shortage of necessary medical supplies (28%).
  3. Most companies expect business to return to normal by either the end of February (23%) or by the end of March (31%). Despite this, there is a considerable amount of uncertainty (27% report don’t know) and a large proportion of companies (37%) nonetheless expect to reopen their offices on 10th February.
  4. Almost all businesses are implementing working from home and 37% are allowing for flexible working hours. A further 22% are postponing investment decisions and another 17%are temporarily suspending operations in China altogether. Of the companies that employ British nationals, relatively few are actively relocating them back to the UK (9%), but most are supporting the voluntary decisions of employees to work remotely out of the country.
  5. Two in five British businesses have already provided support to the government’s efforts to contain the virus in Wuhan and Hubei. This has been in the form of medical equipment (13%), financial donations (12%) and business advice (8%).

“Despite the difficult situation, the Chamber and our members have business continuity programs that ensure we can continue to work and engage through this uncertainty” said St. John Moore, Chairman British Chamber of Commerce.

“The British Chamber of Commerce in China has stood side-by-side China for nearly 40-years since the Chamber was founded in 1981 and our membership is here today supporting the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus. We are confident that the fundamentals in the country remain unchanged” he added.

The full report is available for download here.