A global conference for shipbuilding corporate management gathered 74 top executives of the major shipyards from Japan, Europe, China, Korea and the U.S. (JECKU) to exchange views on global economic development, supply and demand prospects as well as important technological and regulatory developments to improve environmental performance of ships.
The conference conclusions by Chairman Kazuo Tsukuda from the Shipbuilder’s Association of Japan highlighted that there are still a number of global economic uncertainties including energy security and the global slowdown of emerging economies. With ongoing adjustments of fleet availability, increased demolition of aged and unprofitable vessels and increasing environmental awareness a gradual recovery is expected in the future shipping market.
It was reported that the first half of 2013 has shown an improvement in the newbuilding market in comparison to the same period of 2012. All delegates expressed a note of caution, by concluding that it is premature to say that the crisis has been overcome and the market is in a phase of recovery. Some of the newbuilding orders, it was surmised, could be considered a rebound from the sharp drop of contracts placed last year.
The European delegation, led by SEA Europe Honorary Chairman Corrado Antonini, emphasized the need for all delegates to give each other mutual encouragement in the face of difficult economic conditions.
“In Europe we are seeing diverging trends in shipbuilding. The number of ships on order has declined since the start of the crisis, although the value of the order book has remained robust,” Antonini said. “Shipyards are competing for scarce orders however ironically enough there is also a scarcity of skilled labor to build the required vessel types. This truly reflects the nature of European shipbuilding, higher value specialized tonnage operating for non-conventional markets.”
Demand for green vessels will not be enough to absorb the overcapacity of the global shipbuilding industry, so all parties will be confronted with hard decisions to rebalance demand and supply, which Antonini said “can only be a good thing for shipbuilding.”
He went on to stress that given the stricter rules coming from the IMO in relation to the environment, all maritime stakeholders including shipowners and classification societies with institutional policy makers need to ensure that there is an effective dialogue to guarantee a proper timeframe for the adoption of rules. Antonini said, “This will encourage ‘first movers’ and stimulate investments into new technologies and ship types whilst acknowledging our collective responsibility for the marine environment.”
Despite differences in opinion in the general views of the delegations on various topics, the gathering of the main industry leaders from around the world is an opportunity to further expand on a common understanding on the developments within the industry.