Japanese auto giant Toyota said yesterday that it would gradually restart operations in Tianjin after halting production in the wake of deadly explosions at a hazardous goods facility in the Chinese port city.
The company said workers will today begin preparatory work to restart a factory kept offline since a storage facility near the plant exploded earlier this month.
“The restart itself will take place on Friday,” Toyota said in a statement.
The huge blasts killed at least 135 people.
At least 67 employees at the Toyota plant, including those who live around it, were injured.
The explosions happened while the plant was closed for a summer vacation, but Toyota said it decided to keep it offline to assess the situation.
The main Tianjin factory, which produces several models including the Corolla and Vios sedans, has about 12,000 employees and manufactured 440,000 vehicles last year.
Toyota had also stopped a production line about 70 kilometers away that depends on parts from the main operation.
That facility would be restarted today, the company said.
“So far, we have been inspecting our production facilities and ensuring machinery is safe to operate, while conducting maintenance as necessary,” Toyota said.
The firm added that it was looking at ways to make up for the lost production, either through overtime or extra shifts.
Of the two Toyota dealerships heavily damaged by the blasts, one reopened this week while the other stays shut.
Other Japanese firms including Panasonic and Mazda reported minor damage at their operations in Tianjin.
GERMAN specialty chemicals company LANXESS inaugurated a new rubber plant in Changzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, which is its largest investment in China so far.
The 235-million-euro (US$270 million) factory with an annual production capacity of 160,000 tons will produce rubber tailored to the automobile and construction industries. A car uses an estimated 5 kilograms of rubber for door seals, hoses and anti-vibration parts.
“This investment underlines our commitment to the Chinese market, which will continue to be a cornerstone of our global business development,” said Matthias Zachert, CEO and chairman of LANXESS.
“With the new plant, we have completed our global rubber production network,” he said.
The plant, set to create 200 new jobs, is expected to meet vast opportunities in Asia.
CHINA’S economic slowdown and a sharp fall in its stock market herald not a crisis but a “necessary” adjustment for the world’s second-biggest economy, a senior International Monetary Fund official said over the weekend.
Fresh evidence of easing growth in China hammered global stock markets on Friday, driving Wall Street to its steepest one-day drop in nearly four years.
“Monetary policies have been very expansive in recent years and an adjustment is necessary,” said Carlo Cottarelli, an IMF executive director representing countries such as Italy and Greece on its board.
“It’s totally premature to speak of a crisis in China,” he told a press conference.
He reiterated an IMF forecast for a 6.8 percent expansion in the Chinese economy this year, below the 7.4 percent growth achieved in 2014.
“China’s real economy is slowing but it’s perfectly natural that this should happen ... What happened in recent days is a shock on financial markets which is natural,” he added.
China’s stock markets have fallen over 30 percent since mid-year. Following a slew of poor economic data, Beijing devalued the yuan in a surprise move this month.
Cottarelli said the IMF would discuss in coming months with Chinese authorities their decision to weaken the currency.
China is eager for the yuan to join the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies. But the IMF is considering extending the current SDR basket by nine months until September 30, 2016.
Turning to Greece, which is heading to an early election in September, Cottarelli said the IMF would decide in two or three months whether to join the latest international rescue efforts.
The IMF deems Greece’s debt unsustainable and has called for debt relief as a condition to participate in a third bailout.