The production system of South Korea is strongly export-oriented and for decades the country has had a point of strength in shipbuilding. For a country to occupy a top position in the world shipbuilding industry, it is not enough to have a competitive shipbuilder capable of providing a wide range of ships to a large number of flags; manufacturers also need domestic banks very attentive to their and local financial requirements and local industries with excellent global position in the business of engines and other devices used on board. Given the role of shipping in the economy of South Korea, the Seoul government - faced with the corporate and employment problems that have been hitting shipbuilding for some time - has decided to cut the Gordian knot with the so-called “maritime renewal project”.
In practice, it has decided to support the building of 200 new ships by 2020. Is one dealing with a studs-up tackle with a chance of success? It depends on the answers to the following questions. - First question: what tonnage is the “project” talking about? - Second question: where will this tonnage be built? - Third question: how come the Japanese are taking it so hard? – Fourth question: how far can the “project” change the cards on the table? It’s difficult to answer this last question in particular because Seoul has done its part, writing the script, but now everything depends on the staging and interpretation carried out by the state-owned bank KOBC (Korea Development Bank) and by manufacturers and South Korean shipping companies. It is up to these individuals, through the opportunity offered by the construction of 200 ships of the “project”, to put in the sea tonnage with a low break-even point. One can still achieve the goal by improving the efficiency of ships’ engines or developing hulls almost unmanned or via other routes.
Moreover, to remain in the Asian context, Mao argued that the colour of the cat does not matter, it is who catches the mice that counts