NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Covid Returns Yet Again: What does it mean for our industry?
By Amit Kumar | 03/01/2023

For the past two years, the Covid-19 outbreak in China has had a huge influence on the worldwide maritime economy and international trade. As the world's largest trading nation, China plays a critical role in the movement of commodities and resources globally, and the virus's recent reappearance in its Omicron BF.7 and XBB 1.5 strain has created a significant threat of disrupting supply chains and delaying the transportation of goods. In this article, we will look at the impact of the Covid-19 virus resurgence in China on the maritime sector and what the future may hold for this vital sector.


The Chinese response to the outbreak has been widely criticised across the world. The internet has been flooded with unsettling images ranging from individuals being separated from their families and put into quarantine camps to inhabitants being stuck at home following an earthquake in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Such human rights breaches sparked widespread public protests in November, putting the ruling Communist Party on the defensive. As a result, the Chinese government was forced to swiftly relax the lockdown measures for a populace with low COVID immunity, resulting in the recurrence of this public health emergency. Only in the first 20 days of December 2022, it is anticipated that about 248 million people (almost 18 percent of China's population) would have contracted the virus, making it the world's greatest outbreak to date.


The scale of China's COVID spike will undoubtedly worsen supply and trade chain disruptions in other nations. The timing of this outbreak accentuates the criticality of the looming global economic crisis. On one hand, while the South Asian neighbourhood is in chaos - with a complete economic collapse in Sri Lanka, a military coup and massive unemployment in Myanmar, domestic currency inflation and volatility in Bangladesh and India, political turmoil and financial emergency in Pakistan, and widening trade deficits and declining FOREX reserves in Nepal—on the other hand, the Ukraine-Russia conflict has thrown the energy markets into disarray. Furthermore, supply cuts by edible-oil exporting countries, as well as the impact of rising energy prices on food prices, have made food security a key worry, particularly for the financially vulnerable segments of society.


The Chinese government's unwillingness to adopt a more measured and focused strategy to reduce the outbreak, rather than employing drastic measures of mass lockdowns and restrictions, has dealt new blows to economic sectors ranging from retail traffic to automotive manufacture. Fresh risks of lockdowns and travel restrictions in China may also pose increased risks for travellers and seafarers alike and the global economy will be vulnerable if the Chinese economy slows in 2023. Furthermore, inflationary pressures in the United States and Europe, as well as increasing interest rates and an upcoming economic crisis, have exposed the fault lines in the complex interaction of global macro-economic factors. The present health issue in China will conclude 2022 on a rather shaky note for the global economy.

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