Europe must develop holistic shipbuilding strategy amid rampant Asian competition

European shipbuilding nations are too small and weak individually to compete with their Asian counterparts and must band together if they are to propser, a new report has intimated.

The European (EU 28) maritime technology industry is the leading global region in terms of aggregated production value, with a calculated value of EUR112.5bn. The position is even stronger, if Norway and Turkey are added to the EU 28 group. This is one of the many findings of a recently published Study on New Trends in Globalisation in Shipbuilding and Marine Supplies – Consequences for European Industrial and Trade Policy, carried out on behalf of the European Commission by BALance Technology Consulting.

The report acknowledges that individual shipbuilding nations in Europe seem too small and too weak to cope with competitive pressure from Asia, where countries have a targeted national shipbuilding strategy. Only a clear targeted EU shipbuilding policy offering an integrated and unified approach towards international competition will help Europe to cope with its competitive and societal challenges, the report maintains.

Without a holistic industrial strategy specifically designed for the European maritime technology industry, aimed at supporting industrial growth by concrete measures, the future or even survival of the industry may be seriously at risk, the study claimed.

Christophe Tytgat, secretary general of SEA Europe, a regional maritime equipment manufacturing body, commented: “The study clearly acknowledges that European shipyards or European maritime equipment manufacturers will come under severe pressure over time, due to growing protectionist policies or with China preparing to enter the high-tech ships market sector as a political objective… Considering the wide range of financial support measures deployed in the Far East, an urgent reflection on how the EU can best support its own maritime technology industry can no longer be avoided.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. ‘An integrated and unified approach towards international competition’? That doesn’t make sense. The competition is not between nation states. It is between private companies. China may subsisidse shipbuilding, but that just makes it cheaper for international buyers. Half of the shipowners in Singapore are of European descent or nationality.

    Seems like a poor excuse for communism in Europe for me. ironic, that India and China move away from communism, escape poverty and venture into worldwide trade. Europe’s response is to adopt the ideas that kept china and Europe out of global trade for so long. Baffling.

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