A task force intended to help companies deal with the potential consequences of the coronavirus epidemic in China will be established within the FPS Economy (Federal Public Service), Ministers Denis Ducarme and Nathalie Muylle announced on Thursday.
This task force will examine, for example, the difficulties that might face Belgian companies who are supplied by China.
Companies of all sizes with questions relative to the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which appeared in Wuhan in December should be able to address this task force, which will be discussed at a first meeting with the FPS Economy on Thursday afternoon. According to the Ministers for Small and Medium Enterprises and Economy, the task force’s mission will be, among other things, “to prepare the implementation of any support measures, guidance or assistance that may be necessary.”
This is a preventive initiative, and the Cabinet have not been informed of any sectors in Belgium that have already reported problems due to the coronavirus, Belga reports.
Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, is a major industrial centre in China. A city of 11 million currently under quarantine, it is home to many offices of the automotive industry including assembly plants of the French PSA Group (Citroen, Peugeot, etc.), but also of Renault and Nissan, among others. Wuhan’s activity being blocked, plus the qualms about the spreading of the virus have already impacted the automotive industry both within and outside of China. Hyundai announced on Tuesday that it is forced to halt the production in South Korea because the wiring components, which are mainly produced on its assembly lines in China, are no longer ensured due to the epidemic.
Industrial activity which could be affected by the new coronavirus, however, goes beyond the automobile. The production of some companies depends on “components manufactured in China, particularly in sectors such as chemicals, transportation, textiles and electronics,” Ducarme and Muylle’s cabinets said on Thursday.