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Back Βρίσκεστε εδώ: ΑΡΧΙΚΗ Conference Conference 2018: The Global Impact of Shipping Ambassador AHN Youngjip speech at The SeaNation Conference

Ambassador AHN Youngjip speech at The SeaNation Conference

AHN Youngjip

Thank you very much for your kind introduction. President Eugenides and President Veniamis, Vice president Hatzidakis, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, kalimera sas.It’s my great pleasure, to be here in such an array of distinguished guests today to talk about matter of true significance, the shipping industry.

The industry has played a key role not only in building wells but indeed the building human civilization.

First of all, I want to offer my special sense to the Eugenides Foundation for organizing this event. As organizers asked me to introduce some aspects of the of my country’s shipping and shipbuilding industry, I’d like to start talking about Korean shipping and the shipbuilding industry’s past, present and the future as a keystone for Korean economy.

I would like to ask you two questions first. Two questions about the history of Korean shipping and the shipbuilding.

First let’s go back to 21 years. Do you know which one was bigger the Maersk shipping which is now the biggest shipping company in the world or Korea’s two shipping companies combined.

The answer is the latter. In 1997 Korea’s two leading shipping companies Hanjin Shipping and Hyundai Merchant Marines had a combined fleet volume of 280,000 teu while Maersk had 230,000 teu.

Secondly, do you know which country made the world first ironclad warship. The answer is Korea. The Korea’s 16th century warship called the Geobukseon, a name which reflected his turtlelike shape was the first ironclad warship recorded in history. The second one that is documented was made by the UK in the 19th century. These two factories are very illuminating as we look back on the extensive history of Korea’s shipping and the shipbuilding technology.

As I am sure, you are all aware Korea is a small peninsula, which is not blessed with abundant natural resources like Greece. So, Koreas economic strategy after the Korean war in the 1950s was to export manufactured goods by importing raw materials.

Export was a priority on the presidential agenda and the president presided over cabinet meetings to boost exports every month. Since then, Korea’s export to GDP ratio has increased dramatically from 2.6 percent in 1960 to 42.2 percent in 2016. As export increased Korea’s shipping industry also grew with the sales reaching 33 billion dollars which was 2.5 percent of GDP in 2015.

To overcome the lack of natural resources Korea had to focus and to concentrate our available resources such as human capital, money and the political support and invested in heavy and chemical industries.

There is a very famous story in Korea of a Korean businessman who received a ship order, a first ship order from Greece, from a Greek owner, Mr. George Livanos in 1970. He did so despite the fact that there was not a single shipyard in Korea at the time and we made the shipyard and the ships altogether. There after Korea had a very strong relationship with Greek shipping and maritime industries.

Thanks to such an entry support from Greece, Korea was able to maintain its leading position in the shipbuilding industry, specifically Korea ranked first in the ship orders for consecutive years from 2003 to 2008 as well as in 2011 and 2015. Last year shipbuilding orders amounted to 539 million CGT which was second in the world just merely behind, just narrowly behind China. Shipbuilding was Korea’s fifth export industry at a value of 34 billion dollars and employing 210.000 workers in 2015.

Ladies and gentlemen recently however Korea’s shipping and shipbuilding have been on a decline. Largely due to falling to keep pace with the global trends such as accelerating M&A between shipping companies and the increasing ship size for cost reduction. The biggest example of this is the Hanjin shipping.

It used to be Koreas largest shipping company and the seventh largest company in the world before it went bankrupt in 2016. Korean shipbuilders have also been in a crisis in recent years due to overinvestment, high labor cost, the emergence of China with low labor cost and a sharp decline in ship orders. Shipbuilding employees have been laid up due to restructuring and decrease of total employment from 210,000 in 2015 to 140,000 in 2017.

What we are seeing now is very levity changes in the ship related environment. In maritime regulations such as greenhouse gas emissions, the sulfur content ship fuel and the ballast water management will take effect in a few years. Autonomous vessels are expected to operate within a decade. New technologies and the innovations are slowly reshaping the entire maritime sector from manufacturing to managing ships. We have to use this challenge and the paradigm shift as an opportunity. Thanks to proactive investment Korean companies country occupied 49% of orders in the field of ballast water treatment equipment.

We hope to further boost competitiveness by addressing weakness such as high cost, low efficiency structure and a plan to continue expanding R&D investment in environment sector.

To overcome the difficulties from the Hanjin bankruptcy, the Korean government is planning to establish the Korea maritime promotion cooperation by July of this year. This newly established organization will be the core of early construction of the maritime industry and they will promote a win-win development scenario between related industries such as shipping and shipbuilding. In addition, we will promote integration and the merging of a small shipping and shipbuilding companies into larger and the more competitive ones.

Despite the challenges faced today I am sure and I have a strong sense that the future of Korean shipping and the shipbuilding industry is very bright. People closing my comment let us not forget that ships are a form of transport that has survived centuries. The automobile and the motorbike, the airplane they are all new developments.

Ships have existed as this time immemorial, even today shipping carries around a 90% of world trade as the most cost effective and the pure efficient way to carry goods, shipping forms the backbone of the world trade. We need it for the global economy to function and in fact the shipping industry certainly could be the barometer of the world economy.

Nowadays, many people are saying that shipping and the shipbuilding sector are in the state of crisis. However, we should not forget the lessons, the wisdom to be drawn from nature. In nature there is a high tide and low tide even if we face the low tide the high tide will surely come and any stormy sea will come eventually and even in the midst of the darkest of night one thing it can always be sure of is that the dawn will surely come. As we learn from each other and pull our wisdom I believe that we can find the right way forward and opening up new horizons for generations to come. Thank you very much for your kind attention. Efharisto poli.

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