As operations at Tianjin port resumed after the explosions of 12 August, analysts have been attempting to quantify the likely impact on trade.
Brian Jackson, senior IHS economist for China Regional told IHS Maritime that not just the port, but also the immediate region could see weaker trade. As a consequence, he continued, neighbouring regions could pick up the slack.
Tianjin accounts for about 3% of China’s merchandise trade by value and 7% of China’s coastal port tonnage. Much of this is to or from nearby provinces, Jackson said.
Beijing is nearby and uses land routes to import and export through Tianjin or Hebei. Its business accounts for 8% of Chinese merchandise trade by value.
Tianjin port authority announced on 17 August that port operations had resumed. The main shipping channels have restarted traffic, while operations at the berth and warehouse areas are said to have returned to normal, with the exception of those close to the site of the blast.
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As investigations into the cause of the explosions continue, Niu Yueguang, deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security, has confirmed that about 3,000 tonnes of highly hazardous chemicals were stored at the warehouse at the centre of the blast.
Among the 40 kinds of poisonous chemicals detected there were 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, 800 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, and 500 tonnes of potassium nitrate, according to Niu.
Wang Jianfang, director of the office of Chengxin Co, the manufacturer of the sodium cyanide, told local media the chemicals were to be exported to “customers from more than 10 countries, mainly local mining industries”.
Wang stressed that the company had all the documentation required for those exports.
By the morning of 18 August the number of confirmed deaths had risen to 114, with 83 bodies identified and 57 still missing. Of the almost 700 people still receiving hospital treatment, 20 are said by state media to be in a critical condition, while 37 are classed as severely injured.