Global Business Development

An Update on the Coronavirus Impact on Doing Business in China Today

Bill Edwards, CEO of EGS, has been doing business in China for 37 years, starting with living in China from late 1982 through mid 1985. Our company opened an office in Beijing in 2014. Our company is currently helping four U.S. brand enter the Mainland China market. Needless to say, things right now are different than ever before

Here are some recent headlines and analysis that define what is going on in China today:

As of this date, all flights from the US to China and most to Hong Kong have stopped. Business meetings stopped 2+ weeks ago. The Chinese are learning to work remotely.

“China Passenger Car Association said sales fell to just 4,909 units in the first 16 days of February, from 59,930 in the same period in 2019”, South China Morning Post (SCMP), 022120

“China app downloads surge due to coronavirus outbreak Deadly epidemic has left tens of millions of people confined to their homes”, Financial Times 021920

“Coronavirus a boon for China’s tech-savvy supermarkets as homebound customers switch to online grocery orders”, SCMP 022120

Burger King®, Dairy Queen®, KFC, McDonald’s® and Starbucks® closed a total of over 7,500 stores in China in late January or early February.

“McDonald’s has implemented contactless pickup and delivery of Big Macs, fries and other menu items across the China. Customers order remotely and employees seal the meals in bags and put them in a special spot for pickup without human contact.” Reuters 021820

Some feedback from business contacts in China:

“We have been inside our Beijing home for over a month. Only one adult is allowed out every other day. Our temperature is checked by a guard on the way our and on the way back in. Our 8-year-old daughter has not been to school in a month and we have run out of videos for her. Our local grocery store now comes to our housing compound.”, Our company’s Managing Director for Greater China based in Beijing.

“Thanks so much for the nice email and your concerns, Bill. The Coronavirus has essentially stopped inbound/outbound movement and that’s not good for business. All of our staff are doing fine and no one so far has been affected. Many of us try to work remotely as much as possible and avoid crowds, subways, and restaurants.” Message from the Managing Partner of a Shanghai legal firm. 022220

But things are starting to change:

“China’s biggest factories are offering bonuses and the government has laid on planes, trains and buses to ferry people back to work.” Financial Times 022520

“Apple reopens more than half its retail stores in China after coronavirus closures. Apple’s store website shows 29 of 42 locations are opening”. SCMP 022520

With over 37 years of experience of doing business in China, I’m happy to discuss these business ramifications and solutions. I keep my thumb on pulse of the Chinese business market, monitoring daily changes and trends, and have insight on how you can protect and grow your brand in this critical market. Contact me directly at bedwards@edwardsglobal.com or on +1 949 375 1896


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