China Offers Force Majeure Shield For Businesses Affected By Coronavirus Outbreak

China is offering force majeure certificates to local companies, if they are unable to fulfill their international contractual obligations due to the coronavirus outbreak, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade said in a statement Thursday.

The documentation they need to provide with their application for the force majeure certificates includes proof of delays, cancellations for air, land or sea transport, and export cargo sales contracts or agreements, as well as customs declarations.

The council said the move is to protect the interests of China-based companies and to help mitigate their losses.

The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province, has now sickened more than 6,100 people globally, with cases emerging in the US and Europe, while the death toll across China has climbed to 132, according to CNBC.

Key international airlines including British Airways, Lufthansa, American Airlines, United Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines, suspended or reduced flights due to the outbreak.

China is the world’s largest crude oil, iron ore and soybean importer and steel exporter.

Ports in Hubei province, a major Chinese steelmaking hub, have been closed, hampering both iron ore imports and steel exports, and many cities have delayed the restart of construction until further notice.

Refiners in China are poised to slash crude imports and throughput over the coming months.

Industry experts and market analysts have recently revised down their forecasts for China’s throughput in February and March by 600,000-1,000,000 b/d, with crude imports set to slow down accordingly in April and May.