Samsung Display, a supplier for Samsung Electronics and Apple, has asked Vietnam to exempt 700 engineers from coronavirus-hit South Korea from a mandatory quarantine, saying they need to prepare for the production of screens for new smartphones.
Vietnam has mandated a 14-day quarantine for people coming from South Korea to curb the spread of the virus, which can be transmitted from person to person and has already reached more than 60 countries. South Korea has reported one of the highest numbers of infections outside China.
This has come as a blow to South Korean firms, which are the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam. Samsung Display runs a factory in the Southeast Asian country where it assembles OLED displays used in smartphones made by Samsung Electronics, Apple and Huawei.
"Around this time of the year, Samsung Display sends engineers from Korea to Vietnam to prepare for new products scheduled to be launched in the latter half of the year," a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
"Travel restrictions could deal a setback to such plan."
Samsung Display, a Samsung Electronics unit, is in talks with the Vietnamese government about exemption for its engineers travelling from South Korea from quarantine if they present medical examination reports, the person added on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The Southeast Asian nation is South Korea's No. 3 export market as well as the fifth-biggest source of Korean imports. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for a fourth of Vietnam's exports and makes over half of its global smartphones there.