Master Builders Australia has had the opportunity to participate in an Asia-Pacific Dialogue tonight with like-minded building and construction peak bodies representing the industry in the major Asian Region economies to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the building and construction industry in other countries.
Not surprisingly the issues are mostly consistent across the region. We received presentations from the Asia Development Bank, the Chinese Contractors Association, and the Confederation of International Contractors Association.
We also heard from 12 other national building and construction associations including on how the industry governments in the region are responding to the threats posed by the impact of COVID-19.
Given that the industry has been shut down in some major regional economies such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia except on projects deemed essential, there was particular interest in what the industry in Australia has done to remain open including acting very early to implement stringent safety measures to minimise the impact of the virus and public campaigns to signal the industry’s commitment to safety to government.
Delays, shortages in some products, cost increases and contractual issues are being experienced by the industry in each of the countries where it has remained open. In common with our experience, the construction sector has been hit especially hard in jurisdictions where the tourism industry plays a major role in the economy. In Singapore the government has provided protection to contractors from liquidated damages where project delays are due to COVID-19.
Similarly, there are some consistencies in government response country to country. For example, the Hong Kong government is speeding up payments on publicly funded projects, the South Korean government is paying ‘employment support’ to companies to encourage business not to lay-off workers and the Thai government is providing payment holidays for SMEs.
We will continue to liaise with our international colleagues. Snapshots of the impact on the industry in the region and around the world can be viewed with this link.