European trade organisations representing shipbuilders, equipment suppliers and shipowners are calling for action against what they describe as “unfair trade practices” and are pushing for a “global playing field”.
SEA Europe, which represents shipbuilders and equipment suppliers, and ECSA, which represents shipowners, released a joint statement last Friday in which they welcomed comments by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström condemning unfair trade practices in the Asia-Pacific region and asked that the European Commission and EU member states “take concrete and decisive actions”.
Responding to a question from Danish MEP Bendt Bendtsen of the Conservative People’s Party, Ms Malmström stated that the commission would take action to shield shipowners, shipyards and equipment manufacturers from suffering as a result of competitive distortions from Chinese and South Korean subsidies. She added: “[The] EU is engaging with Chinese counterparts bilaterally as well as with other key shipbuilding nations in plurilateral fora.”
SEA Europe secretary general Christophe Tytgat said: “The latest support measures from South Korea are clearly an example of unfair competitive distortions.
“By creating artificial demands through state aid, South Korea has regrettably contributed to today’s severe overcapacity in merchant shipbuilding and merchant shipping, with dramatic, far-reaching consequences for all market players, first for European shipbuilding and now also for European shipowners and the entire maritime value chain.
“Europe now needs to be vigilant that the same unfair trade practices with the same potential devastating effects are not repeated in other shipbuilding and shipping segments.”