Japan's shipbuilding industry, the world's third-biggest by tonnage for new contracts, received 59 per cent fewer orders in the first quarter after a surge of orders last year didn't repeat and yards focus on more profitable ships. Orders fell to 1.55 million compensated gross tons from January to March from 3.81 million compensated gross tons a year earlier, the 20-member Shipbuilders' Association of Japan said on Tuesday, citing data from the Japan Ship Exporters Association.
Orders worldwide rose to a record last year as shipping lines rushed to buy oil tankers and bulk carriers before April 1, when new rules requiring thicker, more expensive hulls took effect. New business in Japan also declined as the country's yards sought only the most profitable projects. Orders this year may fall by 20 to 30 per cent, the association said.
China overtook Japan last year to become the world's second-biggest vessel builder by new orders, driven by imports of commodities and exports of finished materials, according to preliminary figures from Lloyd's World Shipbuilding Statistics. China wants to take the top spot from South Korea by 2015.