A merchant shows a banner written “business booming” at her shop in the Yiwu International Trade Market in Yiwu, East China’s Zhejiang province, Feb 18, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

In response to the impact on economic and social development brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhejiang province’s Yiwu-sometimes referred to as the “world’s factory”-took numerous measures to help local companies weather uncertainties while keeping employment stable.

On Feb 16, shortly after the Spring Festival holiday, Yiwu released several new policies to help companies recruit employees and encourage existing employees to return to work. Incentives were provided to companies that sent chartered buses to ferry employees back to Yiwu. Individuals who went back to work by themselves also received financial incentives.

By March 10, buses, high-speed trains and even planes were chartered to help shuttle 130,000 workers from around China.

The local government also helped manufacturers switch production and reallocate resources to make products needed during the pandemic.

Zhejiang Enchant Cosmetic, a major manufacturer and exporter of cosmetics in Yiwu, was one of the beneficiaries.

“I felt so nervous since the number of trade orders shrank sharply in mid-February due to the pandemic,”Du Jian, marketing director of the company, told China Daily, adding that over half of its production lines were halted and nearly 200 staff affected.

A license to produce disinfection products approved by Yiwu authorities came as a timely boost to the company’s survival, Du said. The company was then able to make rapid adjustments to its manufacturing facilities and shift to producing sanitizing gels at the end of February, effectively making up for losses during the very beginning of the outbreak.

In addition, the company received 11.7 million yuan ($1.79 million) in financial guarantees provided by Yiwu Rural Commercial Bank in May, helping it resolve cash flow difficulties. Its domestic and foreign trade turnover reached 60 million yuan in the first half, a year-on-year increase of 20 percent.

So far, a total of 121 local enterprises have enjoyed such financial guarantees worth 1.19 billion yuan, helping them to maintain employment for nearly 24,000 staff, said an official with Yiwu’s financial department.

At Senyu Holding Group, a producer of a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, workers can receive bonuses for attending vocational training courses in a bid to improve their vocational skills and increase their confidence amid work resumption.

Every participant can receive a bonus of 800 yuan per month for up to three months, said Yu Qiaoxian, group chairman, adding that the company also benefited from low interest rates from local banks.

“The company has successfully overcome economic difficulties concerning rents, fees, taxes, social insurance and financing,” Yu said. She added that the company resumed normal operations in April and its business volume is expected to increase by 10 percent this year.

Cai Jingwen contributed to this story.