BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- China's foreign trade is capable of weathering the coronavirus outbreak and will see progress once the epidemic is gradually contained, said experts.
"Though China's foreign trade sector is facing a big test, it can deliver satisfactory results," Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), told a news conference Friday.
Wei estimated that the country's exports would slide in the first three months of the year but rebound in the second quarter, while imports will notch double-digit year-on-year growth in 2020.
Private firms are now major contributors to China's foreign trade, and they are more sensitive and open to market changes compared to the 2003 SARS epidemic period, Wei said. He cited eastern Zhejiang Province's Yiwu International Trade Market as an example, noting that businesses there have already restarted operation since last week after detecting market demand.
Wei predicted imports to rise rapidly in the wake of the outbreak as it did not dampen consumer demand and huge consumption potential in health, travel, culture and training awaited to be unleashed.
Noting the impact of the outbreak might ripple around the world and disrupt the global supply chain, Wei advised China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to join hands to strengthen industrial cooperation to minimize uncertainties.
"The outbreak is only confined to certain areas and short-lived, but the cooperation of supply chain is long-term and out of strategic considerations," said Zhang, chief researcher with the CCIEE.
With the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G, the collaboration of the supply chain will evolve and become more flexible, Zhang added.
"China experienced transformative developments every time there was an economic slowdown, and I believe this epidemic is also such an opportunity," Zhang said.