High-tech companies eyeing supply chains as coronavirus outbreak continues

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OTTAWA — High-tech companies in Canada and around the world are eyeing their supply chains as experts warn the impact of the novel coronavirus in China on manufacturing plants is starting to be felt.

The quarantine in Hubei province, China, has created a cloud of uncertainty over the country’s manufacturing sector, which supplies goods the world over.

The coronavirus outbreak struck during the Lunar New Year, a time when factories ordinarily close for the holiday, but many have yet to reopen.

Compounding the problem is ongoing travel restrictions, keeping workers from getting to work in plants in China and surrounding countries.

Some companies learned a lesson when trade tariffs were imposed against China by the United States late last year, and looked to other countries to diversify the factories that manufacture their products as a contingency, but that wasn’t the case for all.

Even as they question how long this delay in manufacturing will continue, supply chain experts say without any clear indication of how long the quarantines and travel restrictions in the region will last there’s no way to yet understand what the impact will be on companies’ bottom lines.