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December 2, 2009

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Shipwrights still face critical challenges

THE shipbuilding industry will still face critical challenges in the next two to three years but China will have the chance to take the lead in the industry, a government official said yesterday.

"Shortage of demand will not be resolved in the short term and it may take several years for the shipbuilding industry to return to its peak between 2003 and 2008," Zhu Hongren, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told a senior forum at Marintec China 2009 yesterday. "The worst time for shipbuilding industry hasn't come yet."

However China still has a competitive edge over other big Asian players in terms of technology and labor, Zhu noted.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is studying more detailed guidelines to upgrade and restructure the shipbuilding industry and support mergers and acquisitions among domestic shipyards. Preferential policies will include support for shipping financing.

The country is expected to take five places among the world's top 10 shipyards by 2015, he noted.

Since the designing and building of a vessel usually takes two to three years, the impact of the financial crisis on shipyards will lag the impact it has on the main economy and other sectors.

Most big domestic ship makers now have their order books nearly full until 2011, according to MIIT, but new orders fell significantly since the second half of last year.

The China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry said on Monday that orders for new vessels in the first 10 months this year was 63 percent down from the same period last year at 19.11 million deadweight tons.

Output of domestic shipyards reached 32.08 million DWT over the same period, up 54 percent year on year.


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