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(LEAD) AMCHAM expects no U.S. travel ban for all of S. Korea

All News 18:12 March 05, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments on coronavirus by Euroean business lobby in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- The United States is unlikely to apply its highest travel advisory to all of South Korea, a U.S. business lobby said Thursday, citing Seoul's aggressive efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, the U.S. raised its travel advisory for Daegu to Level 4, the highest level, urging Americans not to travel to the southeastern city most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea.

The rest of South Korea remained under Level 3, which means "reconsider travel."

"The fact that the highest level travel advisory has been restricted to the Daegu region and not to all of Korea shows the U.S. government's recognition of South Korea's effective measures to contain the outbreak," said Jeffrey Jones, chairman of the board of governors at the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM).

Jones and AMCHAM Chairman James Kim said South Korea has been proactive and transparent in reacting to the virus outbreak and that the high number of confirmed cases is due to the thorough testing procedures of the Korean government compared to other countries.

South Korea has the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases after China. It had reported a total of 5,766 cases as of Thursday, with the death toll at 35.

This photo taken on March 5, 2020, and provided by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) shows AMCHAM Chairman & CEO James Kim (L) and Jeffrey Jones, chairman of the AMCHAM Board of Governors, delivering a briefing on AMCHAM member firms' stance toward the South Korean government's reaction to the spreading coronavirus outbreak at a press conference at the International Finance Corporation mall in Yeouido, Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

As for the impact of the spreading virus outbreak on U.S. businesses in Korea, AMCHAM said about 80 percent of its member companies expect to report a loss in revenues for the first quarter due mainly to a decline in purchases by customers or clients.

AMCHAM member firms have taken measures to minimize the negative impact of the virus on their operations, such as the usage of cloud computing, the distribution of masks and sanitary equipment and extension of loan paybacks for small and medium-sized enterprises, the statement said.

"We at AMCHAM have complete confidence that the Korean government is undertaking every possible measure to confront the situation and restore normalcy," the chairman said.

Also Thursday, the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea (ECCK) said 55 percent of 65 member firms replied they are likely to report a sharp decline in revenue for the first half of this year, citing its recent survey.

The business lobby, which represents 360 European companies in South Korea, said nearly half of respondents replied they plan to lower annual business targets.

The ECCK said the South Korean government has been extremely prudent in taking necessary steps for the detection and containment of the virus, as well as maintaining a high degree of transparency with information disclosure.

"ECCK truly appreciates and fully supports the actions undertaken by the government and believes that companies will overcome the difficulties as well," ECCK Chairperson Dimitris Psillakis said in a statement.


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