Shipbuilding: better days ahead as buyers return

October 31, 2013

The shipbuilding industry is anticipating a pick-up in fortunes as interests from international buyers have resumed after several years with the recovery of global economy.
“Interested parties are communicating with us, which is always a good sign. We are expecting orders in the first quarter of next year,” said Md Sakhawat Hossain, managing director of Western Marine Shipyard, a leading shipbuilder.
Moreover, the orders, which were dropped due to tightening of bank credit as the global economic conditions worsened, have also been rescheduled. In the first quarter of this year alone, eight orders worth Tk 700 crore were halted.
“We have been given the green signal to start building those ships from January 2014. We would say we are in the recovery stage now.”
Shipbuilding- better days ahead as buyers returnAlthough European buyers placed orders worth Tk 680 crore with Korean and Chinese shipbuilders last week, Hossain is confident that a good chunk of orders would come Bangladesh’s way too in the near future.
“It is simply because Bangladeshi shipbuilders offer competitive prices — we are expecting 15 percent growth in the next year.” Afruja Bari, managing director of Anannda Shipyard, the country’s another big shipbuilder, echoed the same.
Like Western Marine, it, too, lost six orders worth Tk 600 crore at the beginning of the year.
“We are expecting better days in the future,” she said, adding that the company is set to deliver one ship worth Tk 100 crore to an international buyer next month and another three months later.
The domestic market, however, helped Tk 3,000 crore-industry survive the lean times.
“It [the domestic market] is maturing. The demand for tankers, fishing trawlers, passenger ships, passenger ferries and container ships is on the rise,” said the Western Marine MD.
A total of 100 container vessels will be needed for the new river route to Pangaon Inland Container Terminal in Keraniganj, due to start from November 7.
“We have got six orders already for building container carrying vessels for the new river route between Chittagong and Dhaka,” he said.
The impending series of shutdowns, however, is poised to slow down the industry, according to Bari. “Our workers cannot go to the shipyards during hartal. We have deadlines to honour — we cannot afford to sit idle for 2-3 days straight.”
She urged political parties to keep the sector free from political disruption.

-With The Daily Star input

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