Korea Poised to Claw Back Lead in Shipbuilding

中央日報

Korea's shipbuilding industry is expected to overtake China to regain the No. 1 spot in the depressed shipbuilding market for the first time in seven years.

According to the U.K.'s Clarkson Research Services on Wednesday, Korea accounted for 45 percent or 9.5 million compensated gross tons of global shipbuilding orders in the first nine months of this year.

China came in second place with 31 percent or 6.5 million CGT. China seems to have reached the limits of its technological prowess for now, clearing the way for Korea to regain the lead.

But conditions remain tough. Global shipbuilding orders in the first nine months stood at about 21 million CGT, just half of the 41 million CGT in 2013.

And amid mass layoffs, unionized workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries decided to down tools for four hours a day at some workplaces starting Thursday and spreading throughout the company on Oct. 17 and 18. Workers are protesting the decision to lay off 2,000 laborers at the marine plant division.

"It's too early to say the shipbuilding industry is recovering, because new orders are still a trickle compared to past boom cycles," said Lee Eun-chang at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade. "But it's a good sign that Korean shipbuilders won orders to build LNG tankers and ultra-large carriers, which require higher levels of technology."

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