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Korean firms on alert as more countries restrict entry from S. Korea amid virus angst

All News 17:30 March 06, 2020

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean companies said Friday they are on high alert after many countries around the globe have imposed entry restrictions on travelers from South Korea over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

According to Seoul's foreign ministry, more than 100 countries and territories were restricting entry or imposing tougher quarantine procedures on people from South Korea as of Friday due to the novel coronavirus. South Korea has so far reported some 6,600 COVID-19 infections, second only to China, the epicenter of the global outbreak.

South Korean companies said their businesses have yet to experience significant fallout from entry restrictions, but their overseas sales and marketing may take a hit if the situation prolongs.

"Situations differ from country to country, so it's difficult to assess the impact of entry restrictions in general," an official at Samsung Electronics Co. said. "Since those measures are not about restricting trade of products, we estimate that there will be no problem in supply of materials and parts."

A thermal imaging camera is installed at Incheon International Airport in Incheon on March 6, 2020, as South Korean authorities try to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Local exporters have been coping with the aggravating situations by expanding teleconferencing and using their staff at overseas offices, though some have complained that such measures are less efficient compared to face-to-face meetings.

"Our overseas sales now rely more on foreign branches, but since employees from South Korean headquarters are facing travel restrictions, we are seeing difficulties in some areas," a LG employee working on an overseas sales team said.

Entry restrictions by foreign countries may cause a big problem, especially to those companies that plan to build or expand overseas production facilities, because such projects usually require South Korean engineers.

Samsung Display Co. is one of the companies facing this problem in regards to its construction of a new plant in Noida, India, but the display panel maker said it has yet to face impacts from the country's entry restrictions.

India recently announced it will impose a tighter process for new visa issuances and invalidate previously issued visas.

"At this moment, we are not in a stage to send South Korean engineers to India," a Samsung Display official soaid. "So the construction project is going well as planned, but if the situation prolongs, it may be affected."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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