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Chinese shipbuilding enterprises finding new ways to reform


12-07-2016 04:11 BJT

The room for profit in the Chinese shipbuilding industry continued to shrink this year amid a decline in global orders and overcapacity. Feeling the pressure, shipbuilding enterprises are pushed to seek ways to expand the type of business.

Shipbuilding is one of the leading industries in Taizhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. Orders and private capital were abundant from 2005 to 2008. Then came the global financial crisis. 

One company has suspended an order for seven fishing vessels for more than half a year. Its principal who placed the order in 2015 has yet to come up with the funds.

"Banks cannot lend you money. No one can solve the problem of capital. We cannot afford such a big amount of money on our own," said Liang Xinfa, manager of Zhejiang Tenglong Shipbuilding Company.

In the industrial glory days, the backlog was for dozens of ships. If it drops further now, the company could lose millions of dollars of funding that came with it.

The entire industry is suffering a reversal of fortune. In the past five years, Taizhou has seen the number of big shipbuilding enterprises drop from 69 to only 33. The industrial output has also dropped dramatically– a decrease of more than 10 billion yuan over the same period.

The city is hoping to do more than just wait for the industry to pick up.  It's looking at  more high-tech and tourism prospects.  Some say diversification is vital.

"For a company to survive, it cannot only depend on building ships. The current order quantity does not cover normal expenses. We will put efforts in the transformation and upgrading of our enterprise," said Li Xiangjun, engineer of Zhejiang Tianshi Shipbuilding Company.

The situation is tight. So companies are working on incorporating business opportunities in other sectors. Many private shipyards are branching out to ship repair as well as dock or sea cargo business. They're hoping the transition will keep them afloat as they explore uncharted waters.

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