Vorsprung durch Technik: German yards must counter Asian subsidies by offering superior technology

Vorsprung durch Technik: German yards must counter Asian subsidies by offering superior technology

German shipyards might be enjoying record numbers of orders, but they are still hurting from governments in rival nations dishing out subsidies.

The German Shipbuilding and Ocean Industries Association (VSM) has told its members that they will need to prepared for plenty of challenges in the years ahead despite the fact that the national orderbook has been growing for six consecutive years.

“Weak global economic development is forcing the freight transport markets to adapt to significantly lower growth rates. At the same time, a trend towards protectionist trade policies is pushing local content and government subsidies to unprecedented levels, further distorting the markets,” VSM noted in a release.

The German orderbook has been growing for six consecutive years without interruption.

VSM mentioned China and Beijing’s subsidies in the release, the scale of state support being something “unknown in our part of the world”.

VSM’s counterparts in Japan have recently slammed South Korea too for Seoul’s massive subsidies to protect its own hard hit shipyards scene.

“VSM neither believes in stopping China’s policies nor in trying to emulate them as realistic options. China isn’t Germany – and vice versa,” the association noted.

VSM president Harald Fassmer, who is also the managing director of Fassmer Werft said German yards’ best bet was in developing superior technology.

“But offering superior technology is not some kind of natural privilege of Germany,” Fassmer cautioned, adding: “Rather, the factors that makes the difference are excellent cooperation and our innovative impetus. Both need an appropriate structural framework to unfold – within companies and beyond.”

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.

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