CONCLUSION: Asia leaves European shipbuilders behind – the clock is ticking for shipyards | News

HAMBURG (dpa-AFX) – Without a pan-European industrial policy for shipyards, the shipbuilding industry in Europe is in danger of ultimately collapsing in ten years at the latest. “We have to do something so that we do not lose this industry, this strategic ability in Europe. If we failed, we are still 10 years old, ”said Reinhard Lken, managing director of the Association for Shipbuilding and Marine Technology (VSM) Monday in Hamburg. “After that, Europe will no longer play a significant role in building ships at sea just because the players are no longer there.”

For years, China has been an overwhelming enemy of European shipbuilders, and their influence on the maritime economy is growing day by day. VSM has been complaining for years that China and under the pressure of Chinese competition, South Korea is supporting its shipyards with billions of subsidies. “Normal market mechanisms are being ignored due to state intervention in Asia,” says the association.

“We owe our continued existence to our innovative strength and corresponding success in high-end markets, especially for cruise ships, large yachts and government vessels,” said Association president Harald Fassmer. Due to the commercial risk, most Asian yards “would prefer to keep their hands out” of these areas. However, the sudden and dramatic decline in demand for cruise ships shows “the risk of a strategy with only a few pillars”.

The association does not want to provide any information to what extent the EU sanctions against Russian billionaires as potential superyacht customers will affect German producers. “The mega-yacht market is a discrete market, so I really can’t say how it will play out,” said Fassmer. “Of course, the current situation is not pleasant for our members in the market, but it is also not catastrophic,” added Lken Managing Director. He stressed that, contrary to popular belief, the market is not only a market for Russian oligarchs. The customer base is larger and the importance of Russian customers has actually “diminished” compared to customers in America and the Middle East.

As an example of the enormous opportunities offered to the maritime industry by the climate-neutral transformation of the economy, VSM cites the significantly accelerated expansion of offshore wind energy planned by the federal government. From the association’s point of view, however, the chances are so far rather theoretical. “Normally we should be overloaded with work, but as of today, that’s not the case,” said Lken. He recalled that “the last big hype” that wind power was offshore “basically missed the industry in many places.” It is not only about the wind turbines themselves, but also about the infrastructure, such as additional installation vessels, cranes, cable layers, which are currently not sufficiently available.

“There is no tonnage at all to arrange the transportation of building materials,” said Lken. “At the moment I don’t see how it is supposed to work, especially since the disappointment with the last hype was really big. People couldn’t make any money, ”he added. “We have to create the framework conditions to make money from it.” For example, the association is campaigning to make domestic production an award criterion for future tenders. “It can’t be that we ship all trash from Asia.”

The association also receives support from the trade unions: “Germany needs a shipyard. They are essential for energy supply and security, ”said Daniel Friedrich, IG Metall County Director. “The construction of converter platforms and special ships for the offshore industry or tankers for the transport of liquefied natural gas as well as construction and maintenance for the navy is an opportunity for employees and locations.”

German and European shipyards are now increasingly lagging behind their Asian competitors. Last year, EU shipowners worth around $ 30 billion (€ 28 billion) donated 57% of their total funding. South Korea and 38 percent. China; only one percent of them landed in the EU, VSM said. “After two weak years, Europe has lost ground again in terms of new orders,” said Lken./kf/DP/stw

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