South Korean companies resuming op

SEOUL: Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and other Korean companies are sche-duled to restart their plants in China as businesses resume work after mandatory closures due to the deadly outbreak of Covid-19.

Automakers such as Hyundai, Kia, SsangYong and Renault Samsung, which had stopped their assembly lines in Korea due to a shortage of China-sourced auto parts, will also restart their operations.

However, The Korea Times said Korean businesses had only “partially” restarted and were unsure if operations would fully resume as the virus continues to spread.

Samsung’s home appliance manufacturing plants in Suzhou, China resumed work last Monday, while its Tianjin factory is set to reopen next week.

“Our business could have been disrupted if the Suzhou plant remained suspended,” a Samsung official said.

Although the Tianjin plant will restart its operations later than the Suzhou plant, any potentially negative consequences will be minimised as the plant is producing products only for consumers in the domestic Chinese market.

LG Electronics said seven of its 10 plants in the mainland restarted operations on Monday, while three of them were waiting for approval from the Chinese government.

The company produces products ranging from mobile devices and home appliances to auto parts there.

An LG official said it would take a while for business in China to resume full capacity.

“We are checking our employees for records of travel to infected places such as Wuhan, and people who visited those places are not permitted to go back to work. We don’t know the exact situation of our business divisions in China but we estimate it will take a while to get back to 100 per cent.”

SK Innovation said its petro-leum and chemical production plants in China were not affected by the outbreak, as their manufacturing plants were automated, which significantly lessened infection risk.

LS C&S, which produces power cables, said it resumed operations at its Wuxi plant on Monday, but its other cable manufacturing factory in Hubei province was closed until yesterday.

Hyundai and Kia, which had to close some assembly lines in Korea because of a shortage of China-made wiring harness parts, also resumed production on Tuesday.

“But we are not sure how many auto parts will be imported,” a Hyundai official said.

Samsung Group is extending its support to virus-hit subcontractors as the group’s affiliates established an emergency fund worth 2.6 trillion won.

Hyundai Motor Group also announced its support scheme last week, extending 1 trillion won in financial support to help parts’ suppliers affected by the outbreak.