CBBC Releases COVID-19 Impact on Trade Survey Findings

The China-Britain Business Council conducted a comprehensive survey of UK companies engaged in both the export and import sector to gain a better understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on trade flows between the UK and China. The survey was conducted between 26th February and 3rd March and received 262 responses.

Key findings:

 1. Only 23% of respondents have a negative view about the long term prospects for China’s economy and most expect it to recover in the remaining months of 2020. Short-term sentiment is different, however: 60% of respondents have negative expectations for the next three months.

2. Small- and medium-sized enterprises are the most worried market segment. Firms operating in the education sector formed the largest group of survey respondents, suggesting they are among the biggest sufferers.

3. Businesses that import from China are more likely to make changes to their business model, such as shifting their supply chains. Only 3% of exporters plan to shift their long-term focus away from China, but nearly one-third of importers are planning to look for new suppliers outside of China.

4. Two-fifths of survey respondents reported cash flow challenges. Fixed costs and unpaid receivables are particular problems for UK companies. 56% say they would in principle welcome support from the government.

5. Importers are suffering from reduced logistics capacity more than exporters. 62% of importers reported problems with freight deliveries compared to only 27% of exporters facing similar issues.

6. Legal issues and customs clearances are still relatively minor problems, but importers are struggling with transport bottlenecks. Over two-thirds of respondents (67%) reported no legal issues. Only 11% of exporters have faced problems with Chinese customs services.

Commenting on the survey results, CBBC Chief Executive Matthew Rous said, “China is a market which demands long term commitment and a strategic approach. This survey demonstrates that British businesses are keeping their eyes on the horizon while weathering a number of significant impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak. At CBBC we have more than 65 years of experience in helping our members and clients to navigate such challenges. We are keen to help so I urge exporters and importers alike to get in touch for advice and support.

To read the full report click here