In advance of SMM 2012, the leading trade fair for the maritime industries, to be held at the Hamburg Fair site from September 4-7, the duel in international shipbuilding is going into the next round – the Chinese shipyards were just ahead again in 2011.
According to the latest survey by Clarkson Research, China delivered a total of 1,177 ships with 67.2 million DWT. The closest competitor was South Korea, which had 531 ships and 53.6 DWT, followed by Japan, in third position (462 ships, 32 million DWT).
The three major shipbuilding nations from Asia are prominent exhibitors at SMM 2012, the shipbuilding, machinery & marine technology international trade fair Hamburg, from September 4-7.
“The growing attendance of Asian exhibitors demonstrates the dynamic in this part of the world and is a clear indicator of the importance of SMM as the world’s leading maritime trade fair,” says Peter Bergleiter, Head of Division at Hamburg Messe & Congress GmbH (HMC).
Alongside numerous companies from China, the two most important shipyards CSIC and CSSC will also be there. Other exhibitors include the Korean shipbuilders’ association KOSHIPA, some important Japanese shipyards, and also the Japanese Marine Equipment Suppliers Association JSMEA.
China has held top position in shipbuilding since 2010, but another change in the market conditions emerged at the beginning of 2012 – China delivered 105 ships, more than twice as many as South Korea (50 ships) and also more tonnage, at 8.4 million DWT (versus 5 million DWT for South Korea). But China lagged behind in terms of new orders. According to Clarkson’s figures in January, 2012, each of the countries received orders for nine new buildings, but the tonnage for South Korea was more than six times as high as for China (1.7 million DWT versus 260,000 DWT).
China is still in front in terms of the order book – on reference date 1 February, China had 2,386 ships in the order book, with 149,1 million DWT, which was still well ahead of South Korea (1,103 ships, 106.6 million DWT) and Japan (684 ships, 52.7 million DWT). The current global order book stands at 5,623 ships, which is 2,253 fewer than at the end of 2010. Last year, a total of 2,599 ships were delivered, and new orders were received for 1,253 ships – 365 of these were bulkers and 226 container ships. Deliveries in 2011 were also dominated by bulkers at 1,173 ships, followed by tankers (362) and container ships (190).
Chinese shipbuilding industry seems definitely to be in crisis, with bad news being told, such as escape of Dong Fang Shipbuilding's president, etc.
The Chinese government is now working on solving problems of Dong Fang, however, just a few additional companies would be possibly supported by the government.
Other than financial difficulties, Chinese yards are facing depressed shipping market, decreasing new order, etc.
Market player in China said that shipowners were having troubles in making a payment and kept pushing shipbuilders in a liquidity squeeze. Moreover, declining proportion of down payment pressures shipbuilders' funding.
China's Shenyin & Wanguo Securities forecast that shipbuilding market shows no sign of recovery this year and would not exceed 60m dwt of order contracts in 2012.
Shenyin & Wanguo said that Chinese shipbuilders' orderbook as of the end of January plummeted by 22% to 159m dwt, year-on-year. As newbuildings, ordered in a boom period, had mostly been delivered already, this year would be much harsher period.
In January 2012, Chinese yards contracted a total of nine vessels of 112,200 cgt, down by 78% year-on-year, taking 22.4% of global market.
According to the China Association of National Shipbuilding Industry (CANSI)'s recent report, Chinese shipbuilders booked overall 35.22m dwt in 2011, down by 51.9% y-o-y. About one third of Chinese yards inked no newbuilding at all.
CANSI said that most of yards had quite satisfactory earnings in 2011, due to huge orders contracted with high price before global financial crisis in 2008.
In 2012, delivery and backlog would drop a bit, while there may not be large new orders.
Many Chinese shipbuilders are going through unexampled difficulties by new order drought and decrease in orderbook. Moreover, many of them are faced with ongoing-bankruptcy crisis without any work from the first half this year.
Furthermore, newbuilding price keeps falling, while labor costs and thick-plate price increase.
Pressed by the difficult market conditions, China plans to enhance the competitiveness of its shipbuilding industry by developing a handful of major players, said Guo Yanyan, a senior official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
The government will further consolidate the sector by encouraging mergers and acquisitions and reorganization among Chinese shipbuilders, said Guo, at the Senior Maritime Forum of the 2011 International Maritime Conference in Shanghai on Tuesday.
"We will strive to foster more than five Chinese shipbuilders so they will be among the world's top 10 (in terms of production capacity) by the end of 2015," he said. According to the plan, industrial consolidation will see China's 10 biggest shipbuilders account for more than 70 percent of the country's domestic shipbuilding production. Small and medium-sized companies will be encouraged to develop specialized shipbuilding techniques, Guo added.
The weak recovery of the global economy has resulted in a depressed market for shipbuilders this year. The number of orders for new vessels at Chinese shipyards - particularly for tankers and bulk-carriers - has been much lower than in 2010, said Zhang Shengkun, the president of the Shanghai Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
In 2010, China replaced South Korea as the world's top shipbuilder and the volume of completed shipbuilding orders accounted for 43 percent of the global total. Meanwhile, orders for new ships accounted for 5 percent and orders in hand were 41 percent.
So far this year, orders for new ships made in South Korea have outstripped China by 17 percent, Zhang said.
"With their technological advantages, South Korean shipbuilders can manufacture vessels with more added-value. Chinese shipbuilders have not paid enough attention to their product structure and are facing a serious problem of overcapacity in the market," said Zhang at the forum.
Guo said Chinese shipbuilders should strive to develop their technology to meet demand in the international market.
"Most Chinese shipbuilders produce bulk-cargo ships as their major product. To tap into the global market, it is time to develop the technologies to make vessels with more added-value, such as container vessels, liquefied-natural-gas carriers and drilling ships," said Guo.
Another emerging market for Chinese shipbuilders is the oceanographic engineering equipment industry, said Guo, citing the government's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).
"China's sales revenue from oceanographic engineering equipment is expected to exceed 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) this year, and the country's market share for equipment used in the detection of oceanic oil and gas is targeted to reach 20 percent in five year's time," said Guo.
In 2010, China's accomplished shipbuilding output exceeded a total deadweight tonnage of 60 million tons for the first time, a fivefold increase from 2005. By the end of the third quarter of this year, the accomplished shipbuilding output exceeded a total deadweight tonnage of 51 million tons.