Preparing for a downturn: How manufacturing sector is holding up

Headcount freeze in some segments, but no layoffs for now

Mr Erman Tan, chief executive of Asia Polyurethane Manufacturing, says the trade war has forced manufacturers to do business at a reduced volume with lower margins.
Mr Erman Tan, chief executive of Asia Polyurethane Manufacturing, says the trade war has forced manufacturers to do business at a reduced volume with lower margins. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
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Chemicals factory boss Erman Tan recalls how the impact of tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and China in May came swiftly and suddenly for manufacturers like himself.

"Customers just stopped buying. It was two weeks past when they were supposed to place orders with us, but they didn't," says the chief executive of Asia Polyurethane Manufacturing, which has seen sales drop by 20 per cent since then. "Everybody wanted to clear their existing stock first."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 21, 2019, with the headline Preparing for a downturn: How manufacturing sector is holding up. Subscribe