Cautious Progress of Dutch Maritime Technology Sector Despite Fewer Orders

shipyardDamen shipyard Wiltonhaven. Source: Flickr - under the CC BY 2.0 license; Image by: Kees Torn

The Dutch maritime technology sector, which consists of over 100 yards and 800 maritime suppliers, saw its activity rise slightly in 2018.

Total turnover increased to EUR 7.3 billion (USD 8.1 million), some EUR 400 million more than in 2017, according to data provided by the Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT).

However, higher turnover does not always translate into major growth in profit. In addition, price levels remained under pressure in many companies.

The figures for 2018 show that the recovery of the order intake in the construction of seagoing vessels in the Netherlands has stalled.

In 2018, the yards in this category received build contracts for 39 vessels, compared to 56 in 2017. The drop in the number of orders is mainly due to a decrease in new orders for tugs and workboats.

Despite the decline in the order intake, the overall value of the order book remained stable at EUR 1.8 billion.

“The focus right now is on complex and innovative vessels and we’re working with a huge diversity of designs. Our builders of seagoing vessels have had quite a hard time in 2018. It’s a testimony to their perseverance that they have never stopped innovating and attracting orders for new types of ships, despite the challenges,” Bas Ort, chair of the trade association NMT, commented.

“We saw minor improvements in the Netherlands in 2018 compared to 2017, both for Dutch yards and suppliers. A small step forward but not one that came easy to the sector, which is being more creative than ever,” Ort continued.

Around the world, the upward trend in the order intake for seagoing vessels continued into 2018. However, even with the new orders, there is still not enough work to keep all the yards around the world in business. The consequences of this have been apparent in forced bankruptcies, mergers and increased government support, particularly in South Korea, China and Japan, according to NMT.

“The shifting policies of different countries have led to persistent market disruptions in shipbuilding. A level playing field, both worldwide and within Europe, is one of the most important and complex issues for which we strive every day,” he pointed out.

The trend towards sustainability and digitization continued in 2018. Both these areas can strengthen the maritime sector’s competitive position, as was already the case in 2018.

The maritime turnover of the approximately 800 Dutch maritime suppliers was EUR 3.5 billion in 2018, a rise of 4.3% compared to the previous year.

The downward trend in the total turnover of Dutch repair sites was broken in 2018 for the first time in a number of years, although this cannot yet be described as a convincing recovery, NMT said. Revenue was EUR 416 million in 2018, compared to EUR 381 million in 2017.

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