SOME exporters have temporarily stopped operations after struggling to move goods and house employees amid a Luzon-wide lockdown.

The companies have been unable to process their payroll because their accountants could not go to work, Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Phiilppine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) said by telephone on Tuesday.

A number of companies including food processors also could not provide accommodations to employees within their premises, he said.

“The skeletal workforce is supposed to be housed in the compound, but not all have facilities for that, so they don’t work anymore,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.

Export-oriented businesses may operate during the lockdown as long as they can offer employees temporary shelter.

The Department of Trade and Industry has issued a circular saying cargoes may pass unhampered through checkpoints.

“Up to now, many supplies still cannot pass through some local government checkpoints,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis said, adding that delivery workers end up being quarantined in Batangas province after coming from Metro Manila.

Companies may resume operations as government system improve even if the lockdown is extended, Mr. Ortiz-Luis said.

“The companies cannot afford to stop for so long,” he said, adding that small and micro-businesses need simplified access to government support.

The export sector could lose P4.9-P9.8 billion in gross value added this year if some of the country’s top exports to China and Hong Kong fell by 11% to 100% for a month, according to the National Economic and Development Authority. China is the Philippines’ largest trading partner.

Mr. Ortiz-Luis said the industry might later catch up with global demand once the health crisis is over.

He said local exporters might recover their lost markets “If we are more efficient and come back quickly.” — Jenina P. Ibañez