Japan – Experts fear a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections. On 7 April, official sources announced more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases – the highest level in over two months. Osaka Prefecture confirmed a record 878 cases and Tokyo logged a two-month high of 555. The Osaka Prefecture declared a medical state of emergency owing to the increased strain on its health care system.
Japan – Ongoing uncertainty around caps on passenger arrivals is clouding ANA’s future flight plans to Australia. ANA has maintained the only consistent passenger route between Australia and Japan since the pandemic. Japan is also is a key route for Australians returning home from Europe.
Japan – Dismissals linked to the pandemic have now topped 100,000. The cumulative total, stood at 100,425 on 7 April after reaching 50,000 in August 2020. Employment insecurity is likely to remain high especially among workers in manufacturing, retail and the restaurant business.
Korea – The economy shrank 1% in 2020 – the country’s worst performance since 1998. Korea remains a global high performer, however. Its economy was the third best performing among the world’s largest economies in 2020, according to the OECD.
Korea – Weekly IFAM flights from Melbourne to Seoul are to be extended, and are now available on Wednesday and Friday. This will benefit Australian exporters of beef, chilled salmon and kingfish, asparagus and broccolini. Meanwhile, it appears that 13 major defence acquisition programs are now on hold.
Mongolia – China’s ban on coal imports from Australia has increased demand for coal imports from Mongolia. China is planning to import 70 million tons (mt) of coal in 2021 and is looking to increase imports from neighbouring Russia and Mongolia. Mongolia exported 28.7 mt of coal in 2020 and aims to increase exports to around 34 mt. To increase export capacity, the Mongolian Government wants to increase productivity and improve rail capacity. This creates opportunities for Australian METS.