Pola Grijalva
China Chamber of Commerce and Technology Mexico
Expert Contributor

Human Perseverance, Talent Will Staunch the Pandemic

By Pola Grijalva | Fri, 04/24/2020 - 12:57

The solution to the COVID-19 pandemic will not originate from a single country, a single sector, families or doctors. We are faced with a dilemma that needs to be solved by all of us. Today, we must pursue a completely different view of solidarity, social conscience and the economic and human effects stemming from this crisis.

The viral pandemic is a new element of uncertainty in the 21st century, amplified by extended connectivity and overcrowded cities that find themselves at increasing risk. Viruses mutate to become even more aggressive and deadly, and the only known way to combat them is through prevention and containment. In other words, the current pandemic is a health problem that can only be solved through collaboration and by elevating the consciousness of all humanity.

More than 1.4 million people worldwide have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 as of early April. We are waiting for a vaccine or treatment that can cure this disease, particularly given that there are only a few countries with adequate facilities for treating affected people. It is worth noting how even developed countries have been unable to detain contagion. The US has now recorded the largest number of cases and the largest number of deaths per day in the world.

But there is good news. Demonstrating the generosity people and companies are capable of, China’s Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation donated 50,000 COVID-19 test kits, 100,000 masks and five ventilators to Mexico at the beginning of April. At the same time it was announced that the world’s most populated country reported a single death and only 50 new cases of infection.

At the Mexico China Chamber of Commerce and Technology, we were well aware of what happened in China and learned valuable lessons. The first is that the speed at which you respond to the presence of the disease is important. We would like to stress that it is very important to obey the advice of the health authorities to the letter.

For the time being, we have taken certain steps to protect our customers, leaders and employees. First, our team is working with the same enthusiasm but at a distance. Our staff members, as a security measure, are conducting their activities from home to continue serving our customers. Second, to maintain coordination and contact with representatives of the chamber and companies involved in bilateral ties with China, we are coordinating activities remotely, taking advantage of technology as an important ally to avoid interrupting operations. In addition, we have built a virtual event agenda that we will be providing to continue the work of expanding timely awareness and learning about the pulse of customer response.

We will hold four specialized seminars on the effects of COVID-19 on international trade, provide a diploma course for exporting companies interested in the China market and hold a keynote session with our partner, Banco Santander, on financial instruments that support foreign trade. We invite interested parties to participate and to register through our social networks and our webpage.

We understand that it is essential to provide our community with accurate, timely and up-to-date information and to deliver newsletters and circulars on a regular basis. Related organizations are continuously providing specific information and feedback on the situation, as well as guidance to resolve this crisis. We also have close relationships with governmental institutions, such as the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Mexico, the Chinese Council for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and the diplomatic representations of Mexico in China. These relationships provide us with first-hand knowledge that we can share with the binational business community.



China's economic growth is projected to fall to 4.5 percent in 1Q20, according to Reuters. The International Energy Agency announced in February that oil demand in China fell by 435,000 million barrels in 1Q20, the biggest decline since 2010. Over the past weeks, airlines a loss of US$113 billion. According to the OECD, the most significant danger to the global economy after the financial crisis of 2008 is economic instability attributable to the virus.

However, all these effects are reversible, because human talent is the driver behind markets. Once normal prices have been restored, we expect all supply chains and distribution channels to open once more. Some delivery periods may have been set back and the recovery of output levels may entail extended working hours, additional facility support and other consequences, such as legal expenses or loss of customers.

China has encouraged its business community to face this scenario by introducing measures that could include exemption or extension of time limits for payment of taxes, extending lines of credit, legal support at chambers and associations, loans for payrolls and personnel and fully free health and preventive services. Mexico may well incorporate some of these measures to reduce the consequences of the pandemic while it can. In addition, the Mexico China Chamber of Commerce and Technology continues to join efforts to ensure commercial operations are not affected by these circumstances. Our task is to continue promoting and convincing companies that international trade, exchanges, education and culture must not stop.

In this spirit, I would like to send a message of love and gratitude to all the children and young people who have not yet been able to return to school, the businesspeople who continue running their factories, their points of sale and their restaurants. Most of all, thanks to all the medical and scientific staff who work diligently to give us hope. This is a great sacrifice that deserves the respect and gratitude of all humankind. Thank you for your dedication and your profound sense of responsibility.

Without a doubt, this pandemic will mark a new era with great implications for the way we do business and for all kinds of international exchanges. However, the solutions are deeply supportive, collaborative and holistic. COVID-19 has no passport and has come into the world with an unprecedented power for destruction in a time of peace. Today more than ever, our task is to remain united in rebuilding and expanding our networks and opportunities, as soon as we can recover our social space.