A cautious recovery became apparent in the global shipbuilding industry in 2017, especially over the final months of the year. Also the Dutch maritime cluster sees a positive change. “We can be proud of the many orders that our industry has taken in 2017, despite the many challenges faced,” Bas Ort, chair of the Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT) trade association, said.Despite the beginnings of a recovery that became apparent in 2017, turnover still decreased by some five per cent during the year, from EUR 7.3 to EUR 6.9 billion for yards and suppliers collectively.The total workforce decreased by a little over three per cent, from nearly 29,000 FTE’s in 2016 to 28,000 FTE’ s in 2017. The decline in both figures now appears to have leveled off.“Over the past year we received one of the few large orders made by the global offshore market plus orders for the most powerful cutter suction dredger built to date, several other dredgers, and the first seagoing cruise vessel to be commissioned in years. Moreover, in 2017 we launched several record-breaking super yachts and dozens of smaller cutter suction dredgers for export, while also starting construction of a fleet of fishing boats. The number of orders for inland vessels has also seen a brisk increase,” Ort added.At the end of 2017, the combined Dutch order book counted 93 vessels with a total tonnage of 437,000 CGT.The cautious recovery in the final months of the year was very welcome after the disappointing figures of 2016. However, even though the new orders made in 2017 accounted for more than twice as large a tonnage as in 2016, this was not nearly enough to provide work for all the world’s yards.As a result, the global orderbooks decreased even more, and a number of yards found themselves in difficulties. The effects were especially visible in China and South Korea, while European shipbuilders were the only ones to experience an increase in the order books.“The only way for the global shipbuilding industry to survive is constant innovation and a focus on fair international competition,” Bas Ort says.“This is why NMT continued its efforts to once again get a subsidy for innovations in new vessels up and running in 2017. We remain committed to a level playing field, both outside and within Europe. Meanwhile, more and more companies are also seeing that the Netherlands is in a position to become one of the international leaders in making shipping more sustainable.”A strong Green Deal between the sector and the national government (as announced in the Dutch coalition agreement in 2017) should help in this context.“The coming years will see all kinds of environmental regulations come into force that affect shipping. Our yards and maritime suppliers have the innovative solutions required to supply vessels, and technologies that meet the most stringent requirements. Public authorities, vessel owners and maritime suppliers will have to work together to fulfil our stated ambition of maintaining a level playing field in this context too.”Netherlands Maritime Technology has published a position paper in which the trade association sum up their recommendations.SuppliersThe turnover of the approximately 800 maritime suppliers in the Netherlands amounted to EUR 3.4 billion in 2017 (EUR 3.8 billion in 2016). Total employment among Dutch maritimesuppliers was 16,413 FTEs in 2017 (16,838 in 2016). Additionally, they employed an average of 1,460 FTE’s of temporary workers during 2017.Seagoing vesselsA total of 58 seagoing vessels were delivered in 2017 (compared to 42 in 2016). 56 new vessels were ordered in 2017 (42 in 2016) with a value of EUR 1,143 million (EUR 642 million in 2016). The export share was 57 per cent (79 per cent in 2016).ShiprepairTurnover in 2017 was EUR 381 million (EUR 442 million in 2016). Total employment was 1,710 FTE’s (2,020 in 2016).Smaller vesselsThere were 155 inland shipping, fisheries and small seagoing vessels delivered in 2017 (116 in 2016). The order book contained 198 vessels on 31 December 2017 (126 in 2016).SuperyachtsTwenty-five superyachts were delivered in 2017 (19 in 2016), with a value of EUR 1.2 billion (EUR 1 billion in 2016) and 18 new commissions were received (17 in 2016) worth almost EUR 1.2 billion (EUR 1.3 billion in 2016). The order portfolio at the end of December contained 57 superyachts (66 in 2016) with a value of almost EUR 4.5 billion (EUR 4.6 billion in 2016).This article was originally published in the fourth edition of Maritime Holland 2018.