BEIJING: The prolonged lockdown in Shanghai, China’s financial hub, is slowing the country’s generally booming meat trade, with strict COVID-19 measures causing logistical bottlenecks in the food industry, a sign of growing disruptions to business.
The challenge of transporting food to and around Shanghai, whose residents are in stressful isolation for a month, highlights similar problems in many other Chinese cities as Beijing persists with its controversial zero COVID strategy despite the growing risks to its economy.
China is the world’s biggest buyer of meat, with more than 9 million tonnes last year, worth around $32 billion, and the financial hub with a thriving foodie scene accounts for most of it. imports.
Other food items, including dairy products and edible oils, are also stuck in Shanghai’s port, while beef imports into the city fell 23% year-on-year in March. Compared to other cities under COVID-19 restrictions, the data suggests that food exporters like Brazil, the United States and Australia are facing pressures on their trade with the world’s second-largest economy.
In March, Australian beef exports to China fell 10% year-on-year as the lockdown had just begun, while overall pork imports fell 70%.
Pork imports could plunge as much as 30% this year due to logistical issues, from a previous estimate of 10%, said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.
Traders rely on Shanghai’s convenient location to distribute goods nationwide, but since a coronavirus outbreak forced a lockdown in the city in late March, moving chilled or frozen goods has become a headache. expensive.
Frequent COVID-19 testing, lengthy quarantines and long customs clearance times to enter Shanghai have kept many drivers away, while fewer refrigerated trucks are available due to special licensing requirements.
Outspoken market analyst’s Chinese social media accounts suspended
The Chinese social media accounts of a Hong Kong-based franc market strategist have been suspended after a series of negative comments and mainland stocks fell to two-year lows over COVID-19 shutdowns and tensions. global politics.
All content in the WeChat account of Hong Hao, head of research at Bocom International Holdings, has been blocked since Saturday evening. His account was also suspended, WeChat said, citing unspecified violations of its rules.
As of Saturday, Hong’s account on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo microblog also disappeared.
Representatives for WeChat and Weibo did not immediately respond to email requests for comment on Sunday.
Negative comments from market analysts and commentators in China are often censored. They have come under increased scrutiny as the country’s economy and financial markets face strong headwinds in a year in which Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a third term as president. .
Hong did not respond to a Reuters text message seeking comment on the suspensions, and a Bocom International representative did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Toyota reopens factory in China
Toyota Motor Corp. reopened a joint venture factory in Changchun, which had been suspended since mid-March as the Chinese city’s lockdown measures were eased, Kyodo News said on Sunday.
The report said the Japanese automaker plans to resume regular operations on Wednesday, citing an unnamed source.
Auto sales in China fell 11.7% in March from a year earlier after the country imposed strict lockdowns to contain the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.
(With contributions from Reuters)