Workers built a hospital in Wuhan in 10 days for Covid patients © Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Workers built a hospital in Wuhan in 10 days for Covid patients © Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Top 10 Asia stories of 2020

6 January 2021

SM looks back at the most popular stories from the Asia region in 2020. 

1. Coronavirus: the seven actions from procurement teams

CASME, a global membership network for corporate procurement, identified key actions taken to address the threat to business continuity posed by Covid-19 and "minimise the impact of supply chain disruption”, including mapping high-risk suppliers, and forecasting for potential delays. 

2. Third of supply chain leaders plan to move business out of China

A third of firms had moved sourcing and manufacturing activities out of China, or planned to by 2023, in order to manage risk posed by impacts such as increased tariff costs, and ensure supply chain efficiency and resilience.  

3. Coronavirus disrupts business across sectors

The coronavirus disrupted several businesses following lockdowns across the Hubei province – a key industrial hub in China – in late January. Car manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp temporarily closed production plants to minimise the spread of the virus, while food companies such as KFC and Starbucks also closed, with some experiencing "supply chain constraints".

4. Hyundai and Airbus latest to be hit by coronavirus

As the pandemic continued to affect business operations, Hyundai Motors closed seven factories in South Korea in February – which make up 40% of global output – due to a shortage of wiring harnesses used in electrical systems, while aeroplane manufacturer Airbus shut its aircraft factory in Tianjin, northeastern China. Hyundai was the first automotive manufacturer to close factories outside China.

5. Coronavirus: CIPS' 10 ways to minimise the impact

CIPS released advice on short and long-term procurement actions to mitigate impacts from the coronavirus. Long-term strategies included building plans to address weaknesses in critical areas of supply, collaborating with organisations within your sector to expand limited markets of supply, localising supply sources, and reviewing contract terms.

6. Why has H&M cut ties with a Chinese supplier?

H&M decided to “phase out” its relationship with Chinese yarn supplier Huafu Fashion Co, following allegations that the textile mill employed workers from the Xinjiang province, which is known for links with forced labour and discrimination of the Uighur Muslim minority population.

7. Malaysia sends back 150 containers of plastic waste

The country returned illegal plastic waste containers to 13 countries, with biggest recipients including France, the UK and USA, as it didn't want to be “the garbage bin of the world”.

8. Coronavirus and the end of the global supply chain

SM mapped out the impacts of the coronavirus, highlighting how the pandemic exposed the fragility of the globalised supply chain, which often focused on cost-driven, just-in-time processes. It recommended companies take the opportunity to fundamentally rethink their supply chains to build towards a more resilient system for the future.

9. China starts lifting coronavirus lockdown

In late March, China’s government started lifting lockdown restrictions on Hubei province, which was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. However, disruptions accelerated across other countries in Asia as the pandemic spread, including Japan, Philippines and Singapore.

10. Coronavirus: Singapore law protects firms that can't fulfil contracts

Singapore announced that the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill would come into force from 1 February 2020 with the aim of protecting companies unable to fulfil contractual obligations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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