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China to regain world’s top spot in shipbuilding as Shanghai shipyards ramp up resumption

Chinese shipbuilders are working around the clock to meet rising global orders as Shanghai, the major world production center for shipbuilding, gets fully back to business, with some industry analysts expecting that the Chinese shipbuilding sector will reclaim the world’s top position in the second half of this year.

The epidemic in Shanghai disrupted shipbuilding due to logistics hurdles, quarantine measures and other factors, allowing South Korea to temporarily replace China as the world’s No.1 market by orders. But industry analysts said that Shanghai’s shipbuilders, which are back to 70 percent of normal capacity, will catch up in the second half of the year.

In the first five months of this year, global new ship orders stood at 16.25 million compensated gross tons (CGT). China had 247 ships and 7.16 million CGT, with a global market share of 44.1 percent, a year-on-year decrease of 3.2 percentage points, ranking second to South Korea’s 45.2 percent in market share, Clarksons Research shows.

It was the first time since 2018 that South Korea’s global market share surpassed China’s, according to media reports. In the same period last year, the shares of South Korea and China were 36 percent and 47 percent respectively.

Analysts said that South Korea’s orders for high-value-added LNG carriers helped it gain the top rank, as did production cuts by some Chinese shipbuilders amid Shanghai’s epidemic controls.

But Chinese shipbuilders will soon regain the top spot as Shanghai gets fully back to business and global demand for containerships and LNG carriers continues to increase, driven by the global economic recovery, experts said.

“Shanghai’s shipbuilders are back to more than 70 percent capacity utilization,” Wu Minghua, an independent shipping industry analyst from Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday, pointing to a complete supply chain, a mature production line and self-developed core technologies that have been built up for years.

The three Shanghai-based domestic shipbuilding conglomerates – Jiangnan Shipyard, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co and Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co – have all resumed production.

The conspicuous gap of shipbuilding orders between the two major producers – China and South Korea – took place in May when Shanghai was just starting to resume work and product, while having a tough battle against the epidemic.

In May, China won 34 percent of new orders, exceeded by South Korea’s 48 percent and followed by Japan’s 17 percent, according to South Korean media outlet Business Korea.

What Chinese shipbuilders accomplished in recent months was significant, as they had to deal with supply chain snags and rising raw material prices as well as fighting against the epidemic, analysts said.

South Korea only surpassed China with a slight advantage of 0.1 percent in terms of cumulative new ship orders from January to April, another reflection of the resilient Chinese shipbuilding industry.

A source at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co said in a media interview that the world’s largest containerships, which can carry 24,000 standard containers, completed trial voyages and are scheduled to be delivered in mid-June, the Shanghai Securities News reported earlier this month.

Since production resumed, the company has delivered three ships, while overtaking 23 large LNG ship-related contracts from January to May, with a total value exceeding 30 billion yuan, the report said.

Shanghai shipyards operated under closed-loop management during the epidemic and they stockpiled necessary materials in advance, which enabled them to ensure smooth production and delivery in hard times, Wu said.

Chen Daxi from the Chinese Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in East China’s Zhejiang Province told the Global Times on Sunday that China’s shipbuilding industry remains the world’s No.1 in production capacity and orders, with the Yangtze River Delta, with Shanghai as the center, taking around 70 percent of the country’s total.

As the global economic recovery picks up and port congestion in the US and Europe persists, as well as the geopolitical situation in Europe, global demand for new ships will grow, offering a large market for both China and South Korea, analysts said.
Wu said that it is likely that China will regain the top rank in full-year terms as business resumption further picks up in the second half of the year.
Source: Global Times

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