Canadian Manufacturing

Companies face uncertainty following Tianjin port blast

Automakers have been hit hard because Tianjin is one of China's major ports for car imports

August 17, 2015  by Erika Kinetz, The Associated Press

SHANGHAI—Foreign companies have suspended operations around the Tianjin port as officials scramble to contain the toxic fallout of last week’s deadly chemical explosions.

Toyota, which has operations near the evacuation zone around the blast, said it had suspended three production lines, which account for over half of its China capacity, through Wednesday. Impacted models include the Crown, Reiz, Corolla, Vios and the Corolla EX, largely for the domestic market.

Panasonic, which has a product development centre five kilometres from the blast site, kept its offices closed Monday, out of concern for employee safety. A spokeswoman said executives were still evaluating whether to open the office Tuesday.

Hong Kong-listed logistics company Singamas Container Holdings, which has two depots close to the blast, told the stock exchange that it had suspended operations at the site and lost contact with one employee. The filing said the company was still evaluating losses, but did not anticipate a material impact on business.


U.S. farm equipment maker Deere & Co. also reportedly suspended its Tianjin operations. Employees from the company’s Beijing office refused to comment August 17.

Thousands of Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and Renault cars, most of them pricey imports, parked on lots near the blast were decimated.

Volkswagen said it had lost around 2,700 vehicles, including New Beetle, Golf and Tiguan models. Renault said 1,500 Koleos SUVs were damaged. Hyundai said it had around 4,000 vehicles, mostly high-end cars like Equus and Genesis, parked at the site. The companies said they were still assessing the economic value of those losses.

The Tianjin Maritime Bureau said that 85 ships had been delayed or cancelled, but that port traffic is now at normal

Associated Press researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.