Analysts are sounding the alarm, but say investors are misjudging the severity of the global economic fallout from these extended isolation orders.
“Global markets may still underestimate the impact as much of the attention remains focused on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and U.S. Federal Reserve rate hikes,” wrote Lu Ting, chief economist at Nomura for China and his colleagues in a note last week.
The port of Shanghai, which handled more than 20% of Chinese cargo traffic in 2021, is essentially at a standstill. Food supplies stuck in shipping containers without access to refrigeration rot.
Incoming goods are now stuck in Shanghai’s sea terminals for an average of eight days before being transported elsewhere, a 75% increase since the recent round of lockdowns began. According to supply chain visibility platform project44
Cargo airlines have canceled all flights to and from the city, and more than 90% of trucks
support import and export deliveries are currently out of service.
Shanghai produces 6% of Chinese exports, according to the government’s statistical yearbook for 2021, and factory closures in and around the city further disrupt supply chains.
The factories of suppliers Sony and Apple in and around Shanghai are idle. Quanta, the world’s largest contract laptop maker and a MacBook maker, has halted production altogether. The factory accounts for about 20% of Quanta’s laptop production capacity, and the company previously estimated it would ship 72 million units this year. Tesla closed its Shanghai Giga factory, which was producing around 2,000 electric cars a day.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on Friday that it had sent a task force to Shanghai to work on a plan to resume production at 666 key manufacturers in the lockdown city. . Tesla executives hope they will be allowed to reopen by Monday, ending the factory’s longest hiatus since it opened in 2019. The automaker has lost more than 50,000 production units so far. now, according to documents reviewed by Reuters
“The impact on China is major and the repercussions on the global economy are quite significant,” said Michael Hirson, Eurasia Group practice leader for China and Northeast Asia. “I think we’re going to see more economic and social volatility and disruption for at least the next six months.”
Prolonged disruptions to Chinese manufacturing and shipping could help accelerate a key Biden administration initiative aimed at reducing US dependence on Chinese products and supply chains.
But the task comes with serious immediate economic repercussions.
In a report published last week
the World Trade Organization has warned that a worst-case scenario involving the decoupling of global economies, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, could reduce long-term global GDP by 5%.
This is highly unlikely given the deep financial ties between China and the United States. Investments in each other’s stocks and bonds reached $3.3 trillion at the end of 2020, according to Rhodium Group data
“These are still very intertwined economies,” Hirson said. “This integration is not something that is going to be easily reversed because it would be incredibly costly for the United States and for the global economy.”
Yet US economic leaders believe that decoupling
is already in progress. Co-founder of Oaktree
Howard Marks wrote at the end of March that “the pendulum [has] back to local sourcing” and away from globalization. President Black Rock
Larry Fink echoed that sentiment in a letter to company shareholders. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he wrote, “ended the globalization we have known for the past three decades.
In a speech at the Atlantic Council last week
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States
closely monitor China’s political and economic ties with Russia. “Going forward, it will be increasingly difficult to separate economic issues from broader considerations of national interest, including national security,” she said.
While she said she hoped a “bipolar divide” between China and the United States could be avoided, “the world’s attitude toward China and its willingness to embrace deeper economic integration could well be affected by China’s reaction to our call for resolute action against Russia”.
A third of China, meanwhile, is in quarantine and its economy is suffering.
Analysts no longer believe China’s 5.5% economic growth target for 2022, the country’s least ambitious goal in three decades
is realistic. The World Bank has revised
its estimates of Chinese economic growth this week at 5% but noted that while its
restrictive policies continue and could fall to 4%.
The economic charges come at a politically precarious time. This fall, Chinese President Xi Jinping will seek a third term as the nation’s leader, breaking with the tradition of a two-term maximum.