Japanese export ship orders fell for the third straight month in February on a year-over-year basis, sinking 23.1 percent to 399,376 gross tons, according to figures released by the Japan Ship Exporters’ Association.
The year-over-year pace of decline in February followed declines of 2.8 percent in December and 56.7 percent in January.
Japanese shipbuilders received orders for 11 export ships — nine bulk carriers, one general cargo vessel and one tanker — in February. The 11 ships total 201,210 compensated gross tons.
In the first 11 months of fiscal 2011, which started in April 2011, Japanese export ship orders totaled 6,962,448 gross tons, down 38.9 percent from the same period of fiscal 2010.
Japan is one of the world’s top shipbuilding nations along with South Korea and China. But Japanese shipbuilders are struggling as demand for new vessels among shipowners is flagging amid a slowdown in the global economy, largely because of the deep European debt crisis.
Japanese shipbuilders are also facing increasingly tough competition with their South Korean and Chinese rivals amid the steep appreciation of the yen, which erodes their international price competitiveness. The yen has fallen slightly recently after hovering around record high levels.
There are growing concerns in the Japanese shipbuilding industry about the so-called 2014 crisis. If export ship orders remain in the doldrums, order backlogs could disappear at many Japanese shipyards as early as 2014, industry observers said.
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