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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 -- The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is closely monitoring the development of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak within countries that are Malaysia’s trading partners and have trade activities with China.
Nevertheless, Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said, Malaysia need not be overly worried about the ongoing outbreak, adding that it was too early to estimate its impact on trade and investments activities.
"The reason why I think it is too early to estimate is because traditionally, manufacturing activities in China during the Chinese New Year period are very low. Most factories would close for at least one week or sometimes even more.
"No doubt, there will be some disruptions in China's supply chain and also the global supply chain as a result of this virus, which may prevent manufacturing activities from taking place in China; but we do not know exactly the negative effect that we’ll have," he told reporters after announcing Malaysia’s trade performance for 2019.
Hopefully, he said, the next two weeks would provide more certainty on the extent of the coronavirus problem.
"We hope to see a V-shape rebound, not just by China but also other countries that do trade or business with China; things may go down a bit in February and March for trade and output.
"But once things get back to normal (hopefully) as soon as possible, then we’ll be able to see a rebound in these numbers in the second quarter of this year," he added.
Taking the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 as a reference, Ong anticipated that China would undergo an economic slowdown in the first quarter of the year.
"We do not know how big the slowdown will be, and because of the importance of China in the global trade and the economic value chain now, the effect will probably be bigger compared to (that of) SARS in 2003," he added.
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