The Novel Coronavirus is proving to be a very deadly disease that is grinding all human activities to a halt. Ghana is not left out of the debilitating effect that it is having on business and trading communities, which includes The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
Here, two industry players share their views on the impact of Coronavirus on business in Ghana.
The World Health Organisation has reported that, so far, nearly 1,100 people have died from the disease. With nearly 40,000 reported cases of infections in China and other parts of the world.
Favorable Business Destination
This apparent crisis, as generated by the outbreak of the disease, is not only threatening human lives. It is also having debilitating effect on businesses.
Trading and business activities across China have come to a standstill. Also, activities in shopping malls in China are at a halt, with several shops temporarily closed down.
China is a favourable business destination for many traders and businesses in Africa. As such, import businesses in Ghana and other countries visit the country to purchase goods into their countries.
Consequently, what sort of impact is the seemingly deadly disease having on China’s import trade in Ghana?
Well, Ghana Talks Business sought the views of the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr Joseph Obeng.
GUTA’s position on the impact of the virus
The President of GUTA stated that the coronvirus is having a double-edged impact on their members. The impact on businesses is both positive and negative.
Firstly, Dr Obeng insisted that the outbreak of the Coronavirus was not having any significant impact on their businesses, as GUTA members only contributes very little to the total import that comes into the country when compared to other players, like Palace, who is not a member of the Union.
“For Instance, while Palace could import like 100 containers of goods, I, who is the President of GUTA could bring in only 10 containers”, he said.
He further explained that 70 per cent of the total imports that comes into the country every year are brought in by only 6 per cent of the entire importers population in Ghana.
He however admitted that the situation may aggravate, going forward, if not resolved immediately.
“But we do acknowledge that the deadly disease is impacting on our businesses negatively, especially for those who have their production pending in China”, he said in the interview.
Without praying for the issue to drag on, the GUTA President said that his members may not hesistate to look elsewhere should the Coronavirus prolong in China, as there are many other business destinations that they could turn to.
“Business is dynamic and so if China is dead, we have other destinations. We are not wishing that on them though, but we may have to move on if this thing continues for a very longer time”, he said.
Primary Concern of GUTA
In any case, he said, their primary concern right now is about the impact of the virus on human life, adding that health is an important commodity that should not be risked for anything.
“Our paramount concern is lives. That is why any other negative impact is being overlooked” he added.
Secondly, GUTA remarked that the situation had impacted favourably on the exchange rate. As the Cedi had began to appreciate due to the Coronavirus.
He further said that the full impact of the deadly disease can be better assessed through research. Hence a call on researchers in the country and beyond to conduct a study into the effects of the outbreak on the global economy.
Again, he said the suspension of production in China, owing to the outbreak of the disease, will reduce the dumping of fake and inferior goods onto the Ghanaian markets.
View of Importers and Exporters Association
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Mr Asaki Awingobit, speaking on the “Business Focus” on Monday, also had this to say on the impact of the Coronavirus on the businesses.
“In fact the worst scenario are people who had transferred money to their clients, when Chinese Government asked employees to stay at home and not to even come out”.
He again added that “Importers order based on stock levels, as well as the supply chain. So an importer who was depending heavily on importations from China would have his or her supply locked up because of the Coronavirus”.
Furthermore, Mr Awingobit stated that importers are not the only victims of disease outbreak. Consumers of their imports will also be eventually affected.