(Yicai Global) Feb. 21 -- The novel coronavirus epidemic has affected China's foreign investment and trade, but the effects will be limited to a certain period and will be temporary, a commerce ministry official said today.
The economic impact of the outbreak is already being felt and will likely increase this month and next, Zong Changqing, director of the ministry's Department of Foreign Investment Administration, said at a press conference.
Foreign direct investment into China reached CNY87.57 billion (USD12.5 billion) last month, a 4 percent rise from a year earlier. The country still has strong competitive advantages to attract FDI, and most multinationals remain confident about China and haven't changed their investment strategies, he added.
The coronavirus has posed great challenges to China's foreign trade, said Li Xingqian, who heads up the ministry's Department of Foreign Trade.
Import and export growth rates are expected to decline significantly in January and February because of the travel bans imposed and extension of the Chinese New Year holiday which hampered and delayed production nationwide, he added.
The impact on the first quarter must not be underestimated, but it will be bearable, Li said. The extent will depend on the duration and geographic spread of the epidemic and the ministry will continue to issue polices to support firms and minimize fallout.
Editor: Kim Taylor