Idle Factories, Empty Trade Zone Highlight Coronavirus Impact on Southeast Asia

A Chinese special economic zone in Laos has fallen silent, workers in Cambodia staged a strike after their factory closed for lack of inputs from China, and Myanmar grappled with plant closures and layoffs, as the economic fallout from the coronavirus cascaded across the region.

In Laos, which has yet to report a confirmed case of COVID-19, the developer of the Boten Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Luang Namtha Province bordering China, has suspended all construction and closed stores and restaurants – largely because few Chinese managers, technicians or tourists are showing up.

“Only a few (workers) are working because a great number of Chinese couldn’t come back. Only a limited number of necessary personnel are present,” an employee of the Yunnan Hai Cheng Group in the Boten SEZ told RFA’s Lao Service.

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