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World Economic Forum appeals to businesses in virus fight

Geneva-based group hopes joint action will pave the way to swift recovery

The World Economic Forum, based in Geneva, has issued a set of principles calling on businesses to step up their efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The World Economic Forum on Wednesday called on businesses to help combat the new coronavirus pandemic, noting that the strength of any economic recovery will depend on their immediate response to the crisis. 

The Geneva-based body unveiled a set of "Stakeholder Principles," which urge the business community to help overcome the pandemic by ensuring the safety of their workers, maintaining supply chains, and keeping their prices fair.

"The goal of the corporate principles is to coordinate the business response, manage the economic impacts from the public health emergency and work toward economic recovery when the virus is defeated," the WEF said in a media release.

The group stressed that the business community's response to the crisis "will help determine how fast the policy-shaped short-term economic standstill can be followed by a market-based economic recovery."

Global corporations have already chipped in to support the coronavirus fight. Among Japanese companies, electronics maker Sharp is making masks at its semiconductor plant, while Toyota Motor has said it will produce visors for hospital workers. Suzuki Motor has said it will make masks and ventilators in India, while Terumo has committed to making heart-lung machines for coronavirus patients with severe pneumonia.

The appeal comes as economists debate whether the recovery that is expected to follow the pandemic will be U- or L-shaped, rather than the quick V-shaped rebound people hope for. Some Japanese businesses are slashing part-time positions and canceling employment offers to new college graduates, adding to public anxiety over the outbreak.

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