New orders of China's shipbuilding industry in 2009 are expected to fall nearly 50 per cent from 2008 to as low as 20 million deadweight tonnage (dwt), according to the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry (Cansi), an industry association whose members include all major shipbuilders of the country.
The association also predicted that new shipbuilding worldwide will fall to between 40 million and 60 million dwt.
Because of dwindling demand, China's shipbuilding industry, which is lacking in innovation, is further hit by a rise in order cancellation by shipping companies, Cansi said.
According to the China Daily newspaper, the country's shipbuilders enjoyed a sound return last year, with aggregate profits soaring 50.5 per cent from 2007 to 28.34 billion yuan ($4.05bn, Dh14.87bn).
The impact of the international economic downturn was not felt by the shipbuilding industry until September 2008.
The Chinese shipbuilding industry has a combined production capacity of 28.81 million dwt, accounting for 29.5 per cent of the world's total, according to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China has overtaken Japan as the world's second largest shipbuilder after South Korea, according to Clarkson Research Studies, the British intelligence provider on the shipping and offshore industries.