The Workshop was arranged as part of the OECD's Emerging Market Economy Forum. In addition to the OECD Member states of the Council Working Party on Shipbuilding, the Workshop was attended by Brazil, the People's Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Romania and the Russian Federation. Together, the countries that attended the Workshop account for about 95 per cent of the world's shipbuilding capacity.
The three objectives set for the Workshop were largely met:
to deepen the understanding by government and industry of the basic conditions affecting world shipbuilding;
to increase the level of knowledge of current and future government shipbuilding policies; and
to identify possibilities for continued dialogue and future co-operation between the OECD and non-member countries.
Shipbuilding capacity will exceed demand by about 40 per cent by the year 2005
In sessions dealing with supply and demand, market structure, conduct and performance, the Workshop heard that after an unexpectedly buoyant period in shipbuilding in the latter part of the 1990s, there was now growing concern about a significant and sustained slowdown in new orders in the next century. The recent economic problems experienced in Asia are expected to further affect the demand for new vessels.
While there were some differences as to the potential oversupply of capacity, there was general agreement that a gap existed, and might increase to around 40 per cent of capacity by the year 2005. To avoid serious economic problems, the world's shipbuilding industry needed a level playing field, and there should be no increases in capacity which were not linked to improved productivity.
No alternative to the OECD Shipbuilding Agreement
Serious concern was expressed during the Workshop concerning the continuing failure of the OECD's " Agreement Respecting Normal Competitive Conditions in the Commercial Shipbuilding and Repair Industry " to come into force. The Workshop strongly supported the need for the Shipbuilding Agreement as the only instrument available to contribute to stabilising the balance of supply and demand, and to establishing a level playing field for all market participants. Hope was expressed that the Agreement would come into force as quickly as possible. Some of the non-OECD participants suggested that they would consider the possibility of becoming Parties when the Agreement was in force.
All delegations recognised the value of exchanges such as these, and the Workshop agreed on a continuing programme of consultation and co-operation. In addition to agreeing to a further consultative meeting in about two years' time, the non-OECD countries also agreed to contribute statistical information on shipbuilding similar to that provided by OECD Member countries. This will enable the production of expanded and consistent statistics covering about 95 per cent of the world's shipbuilding capacity.