Tianjin Port Disruptions

As most people know by now, there have been major disruptions at the world’s 8th busiest sea port, Tianjin in China.

The large explosion at a hazardous goods warehouse occurred on Wednesday 12th August and was followed by a second larger one which has been responsible for over 80 deaths and multiple injuries. There is yet to be a conclusion on the cause but it is thought to have been due to a chemical fire in a container.

The blast lead to the total closing of the port for over 6 hours as emergency services battled to make the area safe. Overnight, vessels were being allowed to exit the port but the authorities were not allowing any ships to dock.

The port of Tianjin, which is the hub for export of all goods from the Chinese capital Beijing is now mostly operational and most services have resumed. There are still limitations are on ships containing hazardous chemicals or products which have been totally banned from entering the port.

Almost two weeks later, containers are still being held at the port and it is thought that the port will be subject to disruption in the foreseeable future as investigations take place.

What Are My Options?

As a lot of goods are now leaving and vessels are calling at the port you should be fine to plan on exporting via Tianjin.  If you are concerned about being able to export from Tianjin then you the next closest major port for those who have goods in Beijing is the port of Qingdao, around 350 miles south of Tianjin.

Hazardous Cargo

Following the explosion, there are unconfirmed reports that China will become more strict about the import/export of hazardous cargo.

Chinese Customs are likely to request that all import and export cargo must be labeled both in Chinese and English otherwise it could be detained. The label may have to include commodity, UN number, composition, warning sign, emergency contact and possibly more.

If exporting, it might be quite difficult for overseas exporters to issue labels in Chinese.  You should clarify any changes in requirements with your Chinese counterpart before sending any dangerous goods shipments.

For a belt and braces approach when importing, we’d advise checking with your supplier, shipping company and the shipping lines before purchasing any hazardous products. This will prevent any delays after the purchase of goods.

What do I do if my goods were at Tianjin/Xingang port during the explosion?

If you had a shipment waiting to sail at the time of the explosion, contact your forwarder ASAP. It is reported that ‘crumpled containers were being flung around like matchsticks’ in the blast, so it’s important that you check on the status of your goods.

If your container has been held at Tianjin, while this is not ideal – it is thought that you will not be charged for port rent as this is a hugely unforeseen occurrence and port authorities are expected to be understanding.

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