The coronavirus is now infecting much more than humans.
The virus has gotten into the financial system and much like the spread from human to human, such is the interconnection between economies around the world—it is only a matter of time before one affected economy impacts another. Trinidad and Tobago is not excluded from this.
China, where the virus originated, has many interests in this country, and this is not new. Since T&T recognised the People’s Republic of China in June 1974, the east Asian country has played a pivotal role in the infrastructural development of the nation.
In the last two decades, it was Chinese companies that built the National Academy for the Performing Arts (north and south), the Couva Children’s Hospital, National Cycling Velodrome and National Aquatic Centre as T&T jumped on the “Belt and Road Initiative.”
The spread of the coronavirus, however, has raised concerns about its present slate of projects ongoing across the country, and there are many.
Chinese companies are the contractors for projects such as the new 540-bed Central Block at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, the Phoenix Industrial Park and the Curepe Highway Interchange.
However, concerns whether these projects will stall and go into cost overruns in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak have been quelled with a Chinese official telling the Business Guardian all the projects are moving ahead at its normal pace as most of the manpower on these infrastructural sites are local labour and do not depend on importing Chinese workers.
Further to that, China Central Television correspondent Peng Zhe, who visited T&T this week said the relationship between the two countries will not be affected because of the coronavirus.
He said, however, the popular “Made in China” stamp has taken a hit during the outbreak and how fast it recovers is left to be seen.
China is the largest exporter of goods in the world followed by the United States.
“This shouldn’t be a problem because the ‘Made in China’ products actually have been making progress over the last decade,” Zhe said.
“This has been commonly known in the international business arena so I think that should not be a concern and I don’t think that there is any sign that the coronavirus could bring the ‘Made in China’ products down especially the quality of it,” he stated.
This country imports a lot of products from China including electronic equipment, machinery, iron, steel, plastics and furniture.
On a global level, Zhe told CNC3’s ViewPoint one on one show, he doesn’t expect that China’s relationship with its global partners to change much because of the coronavirus.
“From my perspective, I would be very optimistic about the bilateral relationship between economy and trade between China and T&T,” Zhe said.
He went further to explain: “I think the partnerships won’t really change but the businesses and the trade deals could perhaps be affected in one way or the other because some businesses will really slow down the progress of projects or some companies are really short staffed at the moment, so I think that can be a challenge for the companies and it brings challenges to the corporation but I wouldn’t say that would affect the partnership as a whole in China and in any other country.”
While the number of cases has been rising in Europe and the United States, this week China recorded its slowest daily increase in coronavirus figures in six weeks.