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环球时报就湖北钢铁供需采访兰格钢铁分析师王国清

 https://www.lgmi.com    发表日期:2020-2-18 13:13:23  兰格钢铁

The economy of Central China's HubeiProvince, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, is likely to shrinkin the first quarter as local pillar industries such as manufacturing and photoelectronics take a big hit due to extended factory work stoppages and crippledtransport systems.

If Hubei can resume production and get theeconomy growing slightly or even remaining flat as of the second quarter, itwill be possible to keep China's overall GDP growth at 5.5 percent in 2020,they forecast.

The epidemic, which had resulted in morethan 58,000 confirmed cases and over1,600 deaths in Hubei as of press time, hasexerted a negative impact on local production and economic activity as manycompanies there are grounded.

A manager of Info-eternal, a photo electronicsdevice producer located in Optics Valley in Wuhan city surnamed Peng told theGlobal Times on Monday that the epidemic has had a big negative impact since"the plant remains closed and the products cannot be transportedelsewhere.

"Originally, we would have resumedproduction on February 14 and that isnow postponed to the 24th, according tothe notice by the local government. Yetwe can't be sure that we can open on the24th," he said.

"Our suppliers in Hubei Province arealso not resuming production and other partners and clients across China cannotreceive our products at this moment," Peng said.

Hardly any factory in Wuhan has resumedwork, Peng said, noting that the upstream and downstream industries nationwideare also taking a large hit.

"At present, there are several dozenpieces of equipment in the factory that have not been sent out. The price ofeach one ranges from 20,000 yuan($2,865) to 80,000 yuan," a managersurnamed Xiao from Wuhan Optics Valley at a laser equipment company, told theGlobal Times.

Wuhan plays a leading role in the photo electronicsindustry in China. Production in the city accounts for more than 60 percent inChina market and 25percent across the globe, Tian Yun, vice director of theBeijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times on Monday.

"It's hard to find replacements forWuhan in the photo electronics industry at the moment, and work delays andinterrupted logistics in the city would harm the Chinese and the global photo electronicsector," Tian said.

Not only is Optics Valley stuck in theshadows — local business activity has shown no sign of recovery.

"Except for the supermarkets andgroceries that provide daily necessities, all other business activity hasstopped in Wuhan," a university professor surnamed Sun, who stayed inWuhan during the Spring Festival, told the Global Times on Monday.

"I saw very few pedestrians on thestreets. It is really heart breaking these days to see that Wuhan, a big andbustling city before the epidemic, now looks like a ghost town," Sun said.

Bitter steel

As one of the pillar industries for Hubei,more than 70 steel and iron companies slowed or halted production.

A staff member at Ezhou-based Echeng Ironand Steel Go, under China Baowu Steel Group, which is the world'ssecond-largest steelmaker, told the Global Times that demand for steel is weak,because factories across the nation have not resumed mass production. He saw noboom coming for steel demand in March or April.

"Even though other factories want tostep up production in the future, the consumption of steel has its pace andcannot triple in one day."

According to industry newspaper ChinaMetallurgical News, five major steel mills in Hubei have reduced their outputand the small enterprises all halted production in Hubei, where the industrysupports 50,000 families.

"This situation disrupts the regionalsteel market supply and demand balance near Hubei Province. If the millsproduce too much steel, no factories demand it; at the same time, theirsmelting-steel material cannot last for long," Wang Guoqing, researchdirector at the Beijing Lange Steel Information Research Center, told theGlobal Times on Monday.

However, the steel disruption in Hubei willnot spread to the nation as a whole, as the amount of crude steel outputaccounted for 3.6 percent and steel output accounted for 3.1 percent ofnational production in 2019, statistics from the research center sent to theGlobal Times showed.

Factories in Wuhan, a manufacturing hub,are also experiencing bitterness during recent days.

Lenovo told the Global Times on Monday thatits manufacturing base in Wuhan, its largest in the world that makes all itsproducts including Motorola handsets, has not yet resumed production due to thecoronavirus.

GDP outlook

Hubei's GDP will contract in the firstquarter, experts forecast. In the same period of 2019, Hubei's GDP growth wasas high as 8.1 percent.

The province achieved 7.5 percent GDPgrowth in 2019, 1.4 percentage points above the national average, realizingoutput value of 4.58 trillion yuan and ranking seventh in the Chinese mainland.

In recent years, Hubei was one of theprovinces with the most vigorous economic growth and fixed-asset investment,said Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Tradeand Economic Cooperation.

If Hubei's economy is hit, the damage toChina's overall economy will lie not only in actual output, but also inexpectations for growth momentum, Mei told the Global Times on Monday.

A gap in economic development remainsbetween the province and China's major economic drivers, such as East China'sZhejiang Province and South China's Guangdong Province, which reported grossregional product at about 6.2 trillion yuan and 10.77 trillion yuan last year,respectively.

If the epidemic can be controlled by theend of the first quarter and local production, transport and consumption inWuhan return to normal, it is possible for Hubei's GDP to grow slightly or atleast hold steady in the year, Tian said.

If Hubei can maintain GDP growth above zeroin 2020, it is likely that China's economic growth will attain 5.5 percent inthe year, Tian said.

From crisis to opportunity

"I don't think Hubei's economy cannotrecover from the setback. Instead, the local government should try to turn thecrisis into an opportunity. In the future, some sectors, medical industry inparticular, can be further developed in the province," Tian said.

BGI Genomics Co told the Global Times onMonday that the company's Wuhan branch, which is located in Optics Valley, hasnot resumed work but "we had a team of more than 100 people busy producingcoronavirus test kits during the Chinese Spring Festival."

"The priority for Hubei is to containthe virus now — but meanwhile, local authorities could combine that effort withattracting business opportunities and investment," Mei said.

After the virus is contained, the Chinesegovernment is expected to consider optimizing nationwide industrial deployment- some core domestic industries should be dispersed in two to three areasinstead of one, even if there is some repetitive manufacturing, Tiansaid.(Global Times) 

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