After falling for 14 months in a row, Japanese export ship orders rose for the third consecutive month in February on a year-on-year basis, surging 30.8 percent to 383,670 gross tons, according to figures released by the Japan Ship Exporters' Association.
The February rise of 30.8 percent followed increases of 71.5 percent in December and 50.5 percent in January. The extraordinary growth figures for the latest three months compare with extremely low year-earlier levels. Ship orders had been depressed for more than a year after a sudden plunge in October 2008 due to the deep global economic downturn.
Takao Motoyama, chairman of the Shipbuilders' Association of Japan, painted a gloomy picture of the industry at a recent press conference, citing uncertainty over whether the global economy will get back on a full-fledged recovery track.
"We have to prepare ourselves for a continued slump in new shipbuilding orders for some time to come," said Motoyama, who is also chairman of Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding.
In February, Japanese shipbuilders received orders for seven export ships -- all bulk carriers -- totaling 383,670 gross tons.
In the first 11 months of fiscal 2009, which started in April 2009, Japanese export ship orders plummeted 61.4 percent from a year earlier to 5,412,570 gross tons. The nation's shipbuilders received orders for 101 export ships during the April-February period -- 74 bulk carriers, 17 oil tankers, eight general cargo vessels and two other ships.
Japan, the world's second-largest economy, started providing official financial support recently to shore up slumping vessel exports through the government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
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