Japanese export ship orders rose for the first time in 15 months in December on a year-on-year basis, surging a robust 71.5 percent to 471,600 gross tons, according to figures released by the Japan Ship Exporters' Association.
It may be too early to predict a full recovery from ship owners' flagging demand for new vessels as the December figure compares with an extremely low level in December 2008, when Japanese export ship orders sank a whopping 91.1 percent from a year earlier.
Japan is one of the world's top shipbuilding nations along with South Korea and China. Japan's export ship orders suddenly started to plunge in October 2008 due to the deep global economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis that had erupted in the United States the previous month.
In December, Japanese shipbuilders received orders for seven export ships, a total of 189,852 compensated gross tons. In 2009, Japanese export ship orders plummeted 70.6 percent from 2008 to 111 export ships of 5,711,710 gross tons.
Japan, the world's second-largest economy, has started providing financial support to shore up slumping vessel exports.
In December, the government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation signed a general agreement arranging an export credit line for ships, worth up to $110 million, with Turkiye Is Bankasi, the largest private commercial bank in Turkey.
The credit line is designed to finance the export of ships built at Japanese shipyards to Turkish buyers. It is JBIC's first credit line exclusively for the export of ships.
Earlier this week, JBIC, one of the world's largest international financial institutions, announced its signing of the first loan agreement utilizing the export credit line for ships.
The loan will be provided through Isbank to major Turkish shipping firm YA-SA for its purchase of a 56,000 deadweight ton (dwt) bulk carrier built by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding.
JBIC refused to disclose the amount of the loan, co-financed with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Japan's largest commercial bank, citing a confidentiality agreement among the parties involved.
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