The OECD Council Working Party on Shipbuilding (WP6) seeks to progressively establish normal competitive conditions in the industry. It encourages transparency through data collection and analysis, and seeks to expand policy dialogue with non-OECD economies that have significant shipbuilding industries. WP6 is the only international body that can influence and guide government policies by identifying and, where possible, eliminating factors that distort the shipbuilding market.
The Working Party is chaired by Ambassador Per Egil Selvaag, Permanent Representative of Norway to the OECD. Participating OECD members are: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey. Croatia and Romania are full participants in the Working Party, and the Russian Federation participates as an observer. The European Commission, representing the European Union, also participates in WP6 meetings.
The WP6 has placed a high priority on encouraging policy dialogues, and on establishing close working relationships with non-OECD economies. In particular, these economies were invited to participate on an equal footing with OECD members in the negotiations on a shipbuilding agreement that ran from 2002 until 2005, and Brazil, China, Croatia, the Philippines, Romania, the Russian Federation, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine participated in those negotiations. Although the negotiations were eventually halted, a close working relationship has continued with all of these economies.
The WP6 organizes regular workshops aimed at facilitating the exchange of information on policy and industry developments, and as well as the economies already mentioned, other participants have come from India, and Indonesia, amongst others.
The WP6 has also worked closely with industry groups representing shipbuilders, ship owners, ship operators and trade union interests, so that a wide range of perspectives can be taken into account by WP6 members during their formulation of policy responses to address issues and challenges faced by the global shipbuilding sector.
While the world’s shipbuilding industry has been through a period of record production, it was severely affected by the 2008 global financial crisis, and recent years have seen very low levels of new orders received by virtually all shipyards. The global industry now faces a number of challenges, most notably global excess capacity, which will place the economic viability of the industry under pressure in some parts of the world.
Persistent worldwide overcapacity may encourage governments to provide support through subsidies and other measures, as well as spur other market distorting practices, which can create major structural problems even in the most efficient shipbuilding industries. But potential market distortions can be addressed through close co-operation among economies with significant shipbuilding sectors and the active involvement of industry.