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Development Opportunities Created by SARS Crisis


       The outbreak of SARS, while adversely affecting China's economic growth, also has created new development opportunities.
       Although the epidemic has gravely affected tourism, transportation, catering, hotel and commercial sectors, the consumption of products closely related to the prevention and treatment of the disease has increased rapidly, such as medicine, medical apparatus, sanitation equipment and disinfectants. In addition, with changes in the public's consumption concept, such products as motor vehicles, instant food, audio-video products, books and periodicals have sold well. Bicycles and bodybuilding equipment are enjoying a ready market, as people pay more attention to health and physical training. Related enterprises, closely following the changes in the market, have timely readjusted their product mix and industrial structure, thereby maintaining continuous development.
       Affected by SARS, traditional transaction activities have dwindled, while online transactions have become increasingly brisk. The online transaction volume of the Guangzhou Spring Commodities Fair totaled US$1.2 billion. In April, the industrial production of Shanghai rose by 15 percent over the same period of last year. Many enterprises have reported growth in production and trade via online negotiations. Online shopping and telephone and mail order have been accepted by a growing number of consumers. According to Eachnet, in April, its daily online transactions increased by 30 percent over that in March.

       Many enterprises have seized this opportunity to introduce new transaction methods such as e-business, which helps enhance their capacity to cope with changes in the market and resist risks.
       SARS has changed the public's consumption habit considerably. People now pay greater importance to the hygiene of food and the sanitation of catering establishments and hotels. This has prompted relevant enterprises to improve the quality of their products and services. After the outbreak of SARS, while business turned slack at quite a number of Chinese restaurants, that of foreign-funded fast food restaurants remained brisk due to their good environment and hygienic Western style of catering. This induced some Chinese restaurants to change their operational style by increasing takeaway service, which enabled them to balance their volume of business. The battle against SARS is expected to promote the improvement and development of the service sector as a whole.
       Development opportunities do exist in the current crisis caused by SARS, and they may create new modes for economic growth. Seizing opportunities and taking prompt countermeasures will help advance economic restructuring, enhance the quality of economic performance and further promote economic development. Some departments and enterprises, being aware of this, have acted promptly. The railway sector, for instance, has increased cargo transport to offset the decline in passenger transport. The tourism sector is intensifying training among its employees in a bid to greet the new tide of tourism with improved service. As the fight against SARS is heading toward victory, the consumption market is preparing for a new round of shopping spree.
       The Chinese economy has advanced amidst twists and turns. Nevertheless, it is bound to accelerate development after the SARS epidemic is conquered, just as it did after China successfully overcame the Asian financial crisis and the catastrophic flooding in 1998.

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