Chinese businesses optimistic despite COVID-19 outbreak: survey
HANGZHOU - Despite the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across China remain optimistic about business prospects, according to a survey by Alibaba-backed research unit.
More than 66 percent of 23,715 merchants on Alibaba's major e-commerce platforms of Taobao and Tmall expressed optimism about future activity in 2020, despite short-term setbacks such as declines in orders and customers, delivery delays and tight cash flows caused by the outbreak, showed the survey.
The online survey was conducted from Feb. 5 to 7 by the Ali Research Institute and the China Household Finance Survey and Research Center of Southwestern University of Finance.
The survey on business and economic recovery prospects shed light on the enduring entrepreneurial spirit of the small-business sector, which has been hardest hit by the epidemic, said Luohan Academy, also run by Alibaba, in a research report.
Over 90 percent of the respondents said they expected to suffer losses from the outbreak, but nearly 90 percent stated that they would not cut jobs in 2020, even with increased financial pressure.
According to the survey, disrupted logistics and distribution channels were the main causes of delays to the resumption of business operations and production. Other pressure came from rent, labour costs, interest on loans, material backlogs and virus-prevention costs.
Luohan Academy said it was crucial to relieve MSMEs' cost burdens by offering reduced fees and accessible financing options and providing them the technological infrastructure to navigate obstacles presented by the virus.
Researchers noted that economic recovery was closely linked to the return of workers, including about 170 million migrant workers, to their jobs following a Lunar New Year break prolonged by health concerns.
Luohan Academy said the swift and safe return of workers to their posts should be a priority. In addition, the ongoing maintenance of a healthy work environment was key to ensuring solid and sustained recovery for businesses and the economy.