South Korea said Tuesday it is making efforts to minimize the economic fallout of the new coronavirus as local manufacturers' production lines have been partially disrupted due to shortages of Chinese parts.
"South Korea will continue to look closely at the global supply chain and help local industries better cope with external risks," Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said in a meeting with local businesses.
Production lines at China-based suppliers have been partially or fully shut down over the past few weeks amid an outbreak of novel coronavirus that has claimed more than 1,000 lives there so far.
Among South Korean firms, carmakers have been hit hard, with production partially suspended due to shortages of Chinese parts.
Automobiles are the third-largest export good for Asia's No. 4 economy.
To cope with supply shortages, South Korea earlier said it has simplified the import procedures for auto parts from Southeast Asia and is providing customs clearance services around the clock to keep up the supply.
The ministry said it is also working closely with the Chinese central government and provincial authorities to win approval to reopen factories supplying parts for South Korean manufacturers.
Local businesses currently receive various forms of support, such as financial subsidies and eased labor regulations, it added.
Related organizations, including the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and the Korea International Trade Association, are operating special hotlines to provide necessary support to local exporters.
"Our top priority is to minimize the situation's impact on the economy," the ministry said in a statement. "We are making top efforts to stabilize the local supply chain."
The new coronavirus has emerged as yet another hurdle for South Korea's exports, which dipped a whopping 10.3 percent last year amid a trade feud between Washington and Beijing.
South Korea is currently making efforts to ensure a 3 percent rebound this year, but the outbreak of the new coronavirus has apparently made the target less viable by hurting business sentiment around the globe, while weighing down on local carmakers and tech manufacturers.
The latest situation compounds the challenges posed by Japan's export restrictions imposed against South Korea in July last year.
Tokyo's action has caused uncertainty among local chip and display makers, although they have not yet suffered any significant impact. (Yonhap)