South Korean shipbuilders forecast another bumper year in 2002 after four consecutive years of record-breaking exports and production. The country's shipbuilding industry remained profitable in 2001, with ship production rising 6.6 percent year-on-year to 6.45 million compensated gross tonnes (CGT). South Korea built 207 ships last year.
Ship exports jumped 17.7 percent to an all-time high of US$9.7 billion. Germany was the biggest client last year by importing $1.87 billion worth of ships from South Korea, followed by Greece with $1.75 billion. Ship exports accounted for 6.4 percent of South Korea's total exports last year, compared to 4.8 percent in 2000. The ministry projected this year's ship exports at $9.8 billion.
Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's largest shipyard, and other South Korean firms secured 23 orders for LNG carriers last year, helped by an upsurge in global demand for natural gas. South Korea won 49.9 percent of global ship orders in 1999 and 45.8 percent in 2000, prompting accusations that its shipbuilding industry is debt-financed and supported by indirect government aid. European shipyards contend they are threatened by the excess capacity of over-leveraged South Korean rivals.