An employee sorts packages at a logistics company in Suining, Sichuan province. (Photo/China Daily)
China will take more steps to mitigate the woes of logistics companies, including labor shortages, as part of the overall efforts to ensure stable economic growth despite the novel coronavirus outbreak, the nation's top economic regulator said on Friday.
Gao Gao, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a news conference that the government will accelerate the construction of major logistics projects this year, including national logistics hubs and key cold-chain logistics bases, to promote work resumption in the fight against the epidemic.
"Work on major infrastructure construction projects will be speeded up, especially those related to logistics firms," Gao said. "We will also encourage and support local governments to prioritize the supply of epidemic prevention and other relief materials to the related enterprises and projects to ensure smooth logistics resumption across the country."
By the end of February, the work resumption ratio for logistics firms across the country surpassed 60 percent, NDRC data showed. The road freight sector continued to catch up, with the vehicle operation rate increasing to 70 percent. The reopening rate of logistics industrial parks was nearly 90 percent.
According to Gao, the country will further improve the level of customs clearances, enact more proactive fiscal policies, support the short-term financing demands of key logistics companies, smooth funding pressures on small and micro logistics firms, promptly formulate supporting regulations to build the country's emergency logistics system, promote the reconstruction of cargo transportation and improve the operational level of modern supply chains.
"The country is rolling out the list of key protected enterprises amid the prevention and control of the epidemic," Gao said. "We have recommended the inclusion of several key logistics companies in the list. Financial institutions will be able to offer loans to these firms at a discount."
To better contain the coronavirus outbreak, the NDRC will work with related departments and local governments to adopt a series of measures to guide logistics firms to resume work and production in an orderly manner, Gao said. More efforts will also be made to closely monitor the operations of the logistics industry and promote the transformation and upgrade of the sector with better quality and efficiency.
Currently, logistics firms related to daily necessities have shown an excellent recovery rate, with most on track to achieve their production quota. However, logistics firms related to manufacturing have been relatively weak, as their work involves collaboration along the upstream and downstream industry chains. Therefore, the focus for the next stage will be coordination within the whole industrial chain and between regions, Gao said.
In fact, activity in the global manufacturing sector declined during February, as the manufacturing purchasing manager's index plunged to 47.4 from 50 in the previous month, according to data from the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
"As the epidemic is gradually being brought under control, its impact on China has been minimized," said He Hui, director of the China Logistics Information Center. "However, the epidemic may have a larger impact outside China. We need to pay more attention to the future impact of the epidemic on this month's global manufacturing."