Taiwan Earthquake and Baltimore Harbor Closure Strain Global Supply Chains

Devastating earthquake in Taiwan and bridge collapse in Baltimore disrupt global supply chains, highlighting their vulnerability to unexpected disruptions.

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Taiwan Earthquake and Baltimore Harbor Closure Strain Global Supply Chains

Taiwan Earthquake and Baltimore Harbor Closure Strain Global Supply Chains

On April 22, 2024, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Taiwan, killing at least 10 people, injuring over 1,000, and leaving hundreds trapped in collapsed buildings. The quake, which hit during the morning rush hour, triggered a tsunami warning that was later lifted. It caused widespread damage to roads and infrastructure, hampering rescue efforts and leading to the closure of the main airport in Taoyuan.

Taiwan, a leading manufacturer of computer chips and other high-tech items, is now facing potential disruptions to its production and exports due to the earthquake's impact. The economic fallout is yet to be fully assessed, but the quake has surfaced as a new stress point for global supply chains already strained by other factors, such as the closure of Baltimore harbor in the United States.

The Port of Baltimore, the 11th largest port in the US handling over 52 million tons of foreign cargo annually, has been closed following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The 1.6-mile-long bridge collapsed after being hit by the cargo ship Dali, operated by Synergy Marine Group, resulting in the deaths of four maintenance crew members and the suspension of all port traffic.

The bridge collapse is expected to have significant and costly implications for trade, with an estimated economic impact of $15 million per day. Around 40 ships remain inside the closed port, while 30 more have signaled Baltimore as their destination. Rebuilding the bridge is projected to cost 10 times more than its original construction cost of $60 million in 1977.

Why this matters: The combination of the Taiwan earthquake and the Baltimore port closure highlights the vulnerability of global supply chains to unexpected disruptions. These events have the potential to impact industries worldwide, from technology to shipping, and could hinder the ongoing recovery of international trade following the COVID-19 pandemic.

As authorities work to address the immediate consequences of these incidents, the long-term effects on global supply chains remain uncertain. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the Baltimore bridge collapse, while Taiwan assesses the damage to its infrastructure and production capabilities. The resilience of international trade networks will be tested as they navigate these new challenges alongside existing strains from geopolitical tensions and shifting economic landscapes.

Key Takeaways

  • Magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes Taiwan, killing 10, injuring 1,000+.
  • Taiwan's tech production disrupted, global supply chains strained.
  • Baltimore port closed after Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, 4 deaths.
  • Bridge collapse estimated to cost $15M/day, 10x rebuild cost.
  • Supply chain vulnerabilities exposed, recovery from COVID-19 disrupted.