Malaysia may be a maritime nation, but its presence within the shipbuilding industry is not generally strong. It is classified as a strategic industry by the government and is forecast to provide more than RM 6.35 billion in revenues annually, but the structure of the industry limits its productivity.
The industry got its start in 1912 when Brooke Dockyard in Sarawak was established.
The average local shipyard in Malaysia is small. It has a limited shipbuilding presence or ship repair and maintenance performance. Most shipyards in Malaysia focus on small vessels and low-value jobs. Many do not even have a manufacturing license.
Because of this fractured structure and limited ability to repair, maintain, or build larger ships, the average vessel owner orders their vessel and maintains it elsewhere. Even local owners in Malaysia follow this practice. The main focus of the industry is to carefully balance the value and capabilities of regional shipyards, which can accommodate larger vessels, with the family-based structures of the smaller vessels.
Interesting Malaysia Shipbuilding Industry Statistics
#1. In 1997, the total RM billions value of the Malaysia shipbuilding industry was 441.83. In 2007, it was 1,109.7. (Maritime Institute of Malaysia)
#2. There are about 120 registered shipyards currently operational in Malaysia. They construct ocean-going vessels, local vessels and boats, construct offshore structures, repair vessels, convert ships, and fabricate steel structures and cranes. (Maritime Institute of Malaysia)
#3. The largest facility in the Malaysia shipbuilding industry is able to accommodate the drydocking of vessels up to 450,000 DWT. It also has a ship-lifting system that is capable of up to 50,000 DWT. (Maritime Institute of Malaysia)
#4. From 1996-2006, the number of shipyards with manufacturing licenses grew from 21 to 56 in total, but many of them are small facilities that have labor-intensive responsibilities. (Maritime Institute of Malaysia)
#5. In 2013, the Malaysia shipbuilding industry was able to generate RM8.36 billion in revenue. It also exported RM1.0 billion in revenues and saw investments of just RM33.5 million. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#6. In 2009, the industry saw its peak of newly-built vessels, achieving 312 in total. In 2013, just 236 new vessels were built, the lowest number in a 10-year period. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#7. The Malaysia shipbuilding industry is responsible for providing an average of 35,000 jobs per year and continues to grow as an influential economic sector for the country. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#8. South Korea received the highest levels of global exports from the Malaysia shipbuilding industry in 2014. About 25% of total exports go to South Korea for a value of RM1,253.8 million. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#9. China and Japan are second and third in terms of shipbuilding exports from Malaysia, though the change in value of those exports has declined by 9.5% and 12.6% respectively. In comparison, the export value to South Korea rose by 10.9%. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#10. The main export for the shipbuilding industry is light vessels, floating docks, and submersible drill platforms. In 2014 values, it accounted for RM355.5 million. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#11. Cruise ships and tugs/pusher craft are important components of the industry as well. They accounted for RM313.8 million and RM279.1 million in revenues in 2014 as well. (Ministry of International Trade and Industry)
#12. The Malaysia shipbuilding industry contributed 1% of the world’s new building order book in 2013. That helped to rank the Malaysia as the 26th largest merchant fleet in the world at the end of 2013. (Association of Marine Industries of Malaysia)
#13. About 65 shipyards in Sarawak an Sabah contribute 65% of the new building tonnage that is achieved by the Malaysia shipbuilding industry. Many of these shipyards are family-owned enterprises. (Association of Marine Industries of Malaysia)
#14. In 2009, Malaysia achieved more exported vessels than imported vessels with 132 total imports, but nearly 150 exports. This was repeated in 2011, when 72 vessels were imported, while over 100 vessels were exported. In most years, however, imports greatly outnumber exports. (Association of Marine Industries of Malaysia)
#15. The most common imported vessels for the industry are northern coastal vessels, often accounting for more than half of the total vessels imported. Offshore vessels are also a major type of imported vessel. In 2012, Malaysia imported more bulkers than any other type of vessel. (Association of Marine Industries of Malaysia)
#16. To foster growth within the Malaysia shipbuilding industry, an investment tax allowance of 60%, on the additional qualifying capex incurrent within a 5-year period, has been granted by the government as of 2016. New companies can choose a 70% income tax exemption instead, if they prefer. (Seatrade Maritime News)
#17. Of the 100+ active shipyards that are available to the industry, only 6 are large enough to handle a vessel of more than 600 tons. (Seatrade Maritime News)
#18. 57% of the revenues generated by the Malaysia shipbuilding industry come from shipbuilding activities. 18% of the revenues come through repair efforts. Another 17% is generated through manufacturing. The remainder comes from miscellaneous activities that may be required. (AHK Malaysia)
#19. Domestic production of vessels focuses on near coastal ships. Since 2005, no other type of ship has been more important to the local market. Offshore vessels are second-highest in importance, while passenger vessels are ranked third-highest. (AHK Malaysia)
#20. The shipping industry projects that a capital investment of at least $930 million will be required to sustain the current business model. (AHK Malaysia)
Malaysia Shipbuilding Industry Trends and Analysis
For the Malaysia shipbuilding industry to have chances at growth, there must be continued efforts at modernization. Facilities will need to expand. Additional repair and maintenance options must be provided. New building efforts must include all shipyards that have the facilities and capabilities instead of the industry focusing on two specific locations.
Low ship demands since 2010 have also affected the industry. Downturns in fossil fuel markets and overall international shipping have had negative effects as well. Companies delayed fleet expansion and offshore projects were canceled.
Since 2015, there has been a limited recovery experience. Up to 55,000 jobs are forecast to be available by the end of 2020. If achieved, that would almost double the current employment that is supported by the Malaysia shipbuilding industry. That will have a tremendous impact on the economy, especially with the low overall investment levels that are present.