The Scars From SARS

When dealers used to talk about a slowdown in the Asian economy, they'd use the phrase "Asian flu." Now that phrase has taken on a more ominous meaning, with the advent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a contagious and sometimes fatal disease that has cropped up in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia, particularly Hong Kong and China. (See sidebar for more information.) SARS has had a major impact on the industry—particularly in Hong Kong, a major producer of and market for jewelry. In the first weeks following the discovery of the illness, domestic demand in Hong Kong plunged as much as 75%. The rest of the Asian market also suffered. The disease even hurt Hong Kong's ability to interact with the rest of the industry, as buyers were reluctant to travel to Asia and sometimes uneasy about Hong Kong dealers visiting them. And it's become an issue at trade shows—

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