March 12, 2020 / 12:20 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Vietnam central bank may cut rates to support virus-hit businesses

(Adds details and background)

By Khanh Vu

HANOI, March 12 (Reuters) - The State Bank of Vietnam may cut policy rates to support domestic economic activities hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the government said on Thursday.

The virus, which has killed more than 4,600 people worldwide, has left firms in Vietnam’s manufacturing industry suffering material shortages due to supply chain disruptions.

Companies operating in the agriculture, tourism and transport industries have also been hit hard, leaving several local banks with rising bad debts.

The central bank “will create favourable conditions for banks to restructure their loans and cut lending rates for those (firms) hit by COVID-19,” the central bank’s deputy governor Dao Minh Tu said, according to the statement.

Speaking at a meeting with local businesses earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam needed to prepare for a rebound, as China, South Korea and Japan are expected to quickly resume production activities shortly.

Vietnam’s coronavirus cases rose to 44 on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said. There have been no fatalities. (Reporting by Khanh Vu; editing by John Stonestreet)

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