The Tax Free World Association (TFWA) has emphasised the resilience of the DF&TR industry amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus and expressed its belief that the situation will improve ‘very quickly’.
As reported, DF&TR operators have responded quickly and efficiently to the outbreak, which was last night (30 January) declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This followed a reconvened committee meeting under the International Health Regulations in Geneva.
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, there were 98 cases in 18 countries outside China as of yesterday evening, with eight cases of human-to-human transmission in four countries (Germany, Japan, US and Vietnam).
Currently, no deaths have been recorded outside China, but according to multiple reports today (31 January), the total death toll has reached 213.
TFWAAP: ‘NO PLAN B AT PRESENT’
Maingreaud told TRBusiness: “This is a major concern for everyone especially the companies working in China. It is also important to consider the personal element and those affected by the outbreak.”
Comparing the severity of the situation to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Southern China between November 2002 and July 2003, Maingreaud believes the Chinese authorities have reacted quicker on this occasion.
“There are a couple of elements to consider if you want to compare the Coronavirus with SARS, but all things considered, we expect them to be able to manage the situation better than what they did in 2003.”
With the TFWA Asia Pacific show on the horizon, Maingreaud told TRBusiness that preparations are continuing as normal. “We will obviously continue monitoring the situation very closely alongside our members and business partners and assess the impact in the months to come. There is no plan B at this stage.”
Looking ahead, Maingreaud is relatively optimistic, despite the fact the outbreak is still evolving. While some experts believe it will reach its peak in the next week to 10 days, others suggest this might not be the case until late April/early May.
“We should be reasonably optimistic in my view and will hopefully see an improvement in the coming weeks. At the moment, it is about keeping in contact with our members and the various industry associations and sharing information.”
He concluded: “To summarise, we are fully aware of this difficult situation, but mindful of the resilient nature of our industry. Of course there will be an impact, but overall I am quite optimistic.”