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Shanghai Grows Fast into World Shipbuilding Giant

Shanghai's shipbuilding industry has been making rapid headway in recent years in the international market.

Of the 250 vessels built in Shanghai in the past five years, 150 were purchased by foreign buyers, according to the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute. Even Japan, home of the world's second-largest shipbuilding industry, is now placing many orders in Shanghai.

"We are very satisfied with the increasing efficiency and the improving shipbuilding technology here," said Benoit Timmermans, managing director of Belgium's Bocimar, the dry bulk shipping subsidiary of the CMB Group.

Bocimar has ordered eight vessels from Shanghai, including four 175,000-ton Capesize cargo boats from Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipyard (SWS), Shanghai's newest and largest shipbuilder, and four Panama vessels from the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard.

At the christening ceremony of the Mineral Tianjin and Mineral Beijing, two orders recently filled by SWS, Timmermans said that the company is currently negotiating with SWS and other local shipyards about new orders.

SWS has orders booked through 2007. Since the start of this year, it has completed 870,000 tons of work, with another 15 ships totaling over 2 million tons being built in its docks.

China, now the world's No. 3 shipbuilder with 6.1 million tons completed in 2003, is ambitious. It is seeking to become the world's largest by 2015, when the tonnage completed nationwide in one year is expected to reach 24 million tons.

"Shanghai will play an increasingly important role in fulfilling the target. Local shipbuilders can grab this golden opportunity as worldwide demand is growing," said Yang Xinfa, secretary-general of the Shanghai Association of Shipbuilding Industry.

Competition has also grown tougher, spurring all local players to optimize management and enhance technologies. "Always relying on the advantage of cheap labor will eventually lead to ruin. All the shipyards here have fully realized the significance of this," said Yang.

(China Daily August 19, 2004)

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