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What is the economic cost of Baltimore’s bridge collapse?

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, a steel bridge opened in 1977 which spanned the lower Patapsco River and the outer Baltimore harbour, collapsed when a container ship hit one of its support pillars at about 1:27am (05:27 GMT) on Tuesday.

Cars that were crossing the bridge fell into the river, and six workers went missing and are now presumed dead.

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The Singapore-registered ship which hit the bridge was named the Dali and was heading to Sri Lanka. All 22 crew members as well as two pilots have been accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.

Since the incident, vessel traffic has been suspended in and out of the port. However, the port is not closed and trucks are still being processed within the maritime terminals

How important is the Baltimore port for trade?

The Port of Baltimore is the ninth largest US port in terms of overall trade volume. It handles cargo including automobiles, machinery, agricultural equipment, liquefied natural gas and sugar.

Read Also : Where will Baltimore-bound ships and containers be diverted to?

In 2023, the port handled about 50 million tonnes and $80bn of cargo moving between the US and other countries.

The port processed 847,158 automobiles last year, according to figures from the state of Maryland. About 70 percent of these were imported.

Supply chain experts say US port infrastructure is stronger than it was in 2021 and 2022 when businesses were understaffed and struggling with backlogs of ships and containers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused consumer prices to spike. Experts do not expect this to happen on a wide scale now.

“The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland is another reminder of the US vulnerability to supply-chain shocks, but this event will have greater economic implications for the Baltimore economy than nationally,” Ryan Sweet, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note.

“We don’t anticipate that the disruptions to trade or transportation will be visible in US GDP, and the implications for inflation are minimal,” he added.

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