The nation’s shipbuilding sector is undergoing a renaissance, Department of Statistics Director-General Wang Shu-chuan (王淑娟) said by telephone yesterday, one day after a Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) report said the sector’s production value last year surged 25.2 percent to NT$27.1 billion (US$895.87 million at the current exchange rate).
The surge was largely due to growing demand from the offshore wind energy industry and domestic submarine projects, the report said.
There was also an increase in the production of large and small container ships, with production value increasing by 35.2 percent on an annual basis to NT$19.8 billion, while yacht manufacturing output grew 9.4 percent to NT$6.4 billion, the report said.
“The sector is witnessing a renaissance mainly due to the construction of offshore wind farms and the government’s plan to manufacture naval vessels locally,” Wang said.
“Exports now make up a majority of yacht orders, with the US as Taiwanese makers’ greatest client,” she said, adding that exports last year totaled US$231.55 million, a 38 percent increase from 2018.
Local yacht makers clinched the most orders last year among Asian firms, she said, citing data from Boat International Media.
However, whether Taiwanese firms will be able to maintain the momentum amid the COVID-19 pandemic is not clear.
“The demand for container ships is likely to falter this year as wind farm developers move on to the next phase in construction... However, this might boost orders for wind turbine installation vessels and the like,” Wang said.
“What we fear is the growing volatility across international markets fostered by fears about the spread of COVID-19,” she said.
The sector might see a decline similar to that during the 2008 global financial crisis, she said.
The sector’s production plummeted 21.1 percent in 2009, to NT$38.7 billion, from NT$49.1 billion in 2008, the ministry’s data showed.
“The fall in global trade [during 2008-2009] dealt a heavy blow to the local production of container ships,” Wang said.
While it is too early to make predictions, the sector would be affected if the pandemic continues, even though production of submarines might continue as planned, she said.
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