Fellow Koreans, representatives from the shipping and shipbuilding industries,
These wild sea winds at the shipyard of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering on Geojedo carry your enthusiastic passion.
Two years ago, a five-year plan to rebuild the shipping industry was announced. Today, I am very pleased to talk to the people about what we have achieved so far.
Today, the HMM Algeciras will be named and set sail into the vast ocean. As the world’s largest container vessel, it can carry 24,000 containers at a time.
The Korean shipping industry suffered a tremendous hardship due to the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping in 2017, but we eventually overcame it. With this naming ceremony for the HMM Algeciras today, we herald to the world the rebuilding of the Republic of Korea’s shipping industry.
Today’s naming ceremony is only the beginning. Within this year, the world’s 12 largest container ships, all Korea-made and of the same class as the HMM Algeciras, will start to crisscross the globe. Just as Admiral Yi Sun-sin helped surmount a national crisis with only 12 vessels some 400 years ago, these 12 super-sized container ships will help revive the stature of our shipping industry.
I would like to commend the sailors and shipbuilding workers as well as the executives and staff of HMM and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, the relevant officials from state-owned financial institutions and the Korea Ocean Business Corporation. Gyeongsangnam-do Governor Kim Kyoung-soo and other officials from the Gyeongsangnam-do provincial government and the Geoje municipal government have also provided due support. More than anything else, I am grateful to you all for bringing great hope to the people at a time of difficulties caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Throughout modern and contemporary world history, the countries that have expanded their visions into the ocean have linked the world and risen as global centers.
Approximately 90 percent of total global trade and 99.7 percent of Korea’s cargo traffic in exports and imports take place on the ocean. The Republic of Korea’s future as a maritime powerhouse can never be relinquished.
The shipping industry is one of the most promising engines for the Republic of Korea’s industrial development. It is an industry that has a resounding ripple effect on other interrelated down- and upstream industries such as shipbuilding and ports, respectively. It is closely connected to manufacturing, especially key strategic industries, not limited to cargo shipping.
Essential raw materials and energy are transported into the country by shipping. During wartime, shipping serves as the fourth branch of the military following the army, navy and the air force. Shipping is a national key industry in name and substance.
Korea began to foster the shipping industry by establishing the Korea Shipping Corporation in 1950. At that time, we did not even have one merchant ship to speak of for trade. The start was poor, but Korea’s shipping industry has been on a fast growth track since a regular deep-sea route to North America first opened in 1965.
At one point – after a global financial crisis led to a prolonged recession and Korea’s largest shipping company went bankrupt – our shipping industry suffered pain from the instant disintegration of logistic networks built over a period of 70 years. At that time, many experts said Korea’s shipping industry would not be able to rise again.
However, we have never given up. The Korean Government chose the resurgence of the shipping industry as one of its administrative priorities. It then devised and implemented the five-year plan to rebuild the shipping industry. It also provided bold and unstinting support by establishing the Korea Ocean Business Corporation.
In 2017, Hyundai Merchant Marine’s fate also hung by a thread, but the company surmounted the crisis through bone-crushing restructuring and management innovation. It was newly transformed into HMM last month, standing tall in the global shipping market.
The company has already placed orders for 20 super-sized container ships. It joined The Alliance, one of the world’s three largest shipping alliances, and initiated shipping service cooperation from this month, enhancing its global competitiveness.
Today’s achievements are the fruition of the efforts over the past two years to resuscitate the domestic shipping industry.
Fellow Koreans and representatives from the shipping and shipbuilding industries,
Now, we have to overcome yet another crisis. We must ride out the waves of the COVID-19-induced economic recession.
The International Monetary Fund is predicting the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Global cargo demand is feared to plummet due to the “Great Lockdown” around the world. As a consequence, our economy and domestic shipping industry are expected to undergo huge difficulties, but we will employ all available means to weather it without fail.
The Government wasted no time implementing fiscal and financial support for the shipping industry damaged by the COVID-19 outbreak. The 380 billion won worth of measures include emergency management funds, the extension of due dates on loans and reduction of fees for use of port facilities. This morning, we’ve prepared an additional, large-scale financial support measure in the amount of 1.25 trillion won. This will expand support for ship financing, sale-and-leaseback options and the provision of emergency liquidity to shipping companies.
In addition, shipping and logistics activities can be guaranteed and the world recession prevented only when essential personnel and commodities are allowed to move. At the extraordinary virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit, our proposal to cooperate in promoting international trade was accepted and agreed upon.
In order to help our shipping industry ride out the high waves approaching, the Government will stand by companies until they recover. We will work together with the international community to prevent the collapse of the global supply chain under any circumstances.
The Government will come up with a long-term vision for our shipping industry through an “emergency liquidity infusion” and “improved fundamentals.” With the goal of emerging as the fifth largest shipping industry powerhouse in the world, we will strongly push ahead with the five-year plan to rebuild the shipping industry and never repeat the history of ebbs and flows.
First, we will establish a mutually beneficial shipping industry model.
The Government will offer various incentives to shippers using Korea-flagged ships – allowing them to use port facilities, providing tax benefits and financial support, among other things – in order to build a foundation where ship owners and consignors can advance in mutually beneficial ways. We will also foster small and medium-sized and mid-market shipping companies in order to strengthen the shipping industry’s competitiveness, which will help establish a mutually beneficial structure that can promote related industries such as logistics and manufacturing.
Second, we will bring the Fourth Industrial Revolution into fruition in the shipping industry.
The Government will introduce autonomous ships and intelligent navigation systems by building upon our world-class information technology. We will further accelerate the fostering of new industries by utilizing port hinterlands. We will complete the second Busan New Port as soon as possible in order to accommodate the larger class of ships and establish a smart logistics hub. We will also introduce a Korea-type smart port system to the Port of Gwangyang, which will automate the entire process from loading and unloading containers to transporting them.
Third, we will actively nurture an eco-friendly shipbuilding industry.
The shipping-related international environmental regulations, which have been tightened from this year, will serve as an opportunity for us to create new industries. The Government will support the initial expenses for installing eco-friendly equipment, and it will actively develop new future industries out of eco-friendly shipbuilding related to LNG- and hydrogen-fueled vessels, ballast water treatment technology and ship desulfurization devices.
I will present the captain of the HMM Algeciras our traditional yundo compass as we celebrate the ship’s maiden voyage today. I hope that our shipping industry will continue to advance toward the path of innovation to which that compass points.
Fellow Koreans, Gyeongsangnam-do residents and representatives from the shipping and shipbuilding industries,
I still remember the time I visited the Daewoo shipyard here on Geojedo two years ago. It was undergoing tremendous hardships due to industrial restructuring at that time, but we pledged together to revive the shipping and shipbuilding industries by any means.
Now, two years later, we have created a miracle that amazes the world. Together with Korea’s status as the world’s leading shipbuilding powerhouse, the vigorous resurgence of its shipping industry has just begun.
Spain’s Port of Algeciras will be densely filled with Korea-flagged container ships lying at anchor. Korea-brand containers will be stacked high at the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the Port of Hamburg in Germany and every other European port.
The first blast of the HMM Algeciras’s foghorn is heralding to the world yet another miracle from our shipping industry and our economy as well as the hope to overcome COVID-19.
Let us all take pride in ourselves and achieve a mutually beneficial leap forward for the Republic of Korea’s shipping industry and its economy.