An uproar has arisen in the domestic shipbuilding industry. Just as Elefsina and Skaramagkas look for a ray of light and Neorio has just entered a path of consolidation after the investment of ONEX, along comes Piraeus Port Authority with an intention to create a shipyard in Piraeus and its justification by the Council of State.
As expected, this move provoked a storm of reactions. According to shipbuilding companies, the establishment of a new shipyard in Perama will result in the destruction of small and medium-sized enterprises in the sector, putting at risk 20,000 jobs.
On the other hand, Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis assured in the last press conference that Cosco will not operate a shipyard in Perama.
The case for the creation of a shipyard by Cosco in Piraeus is not a simple one despite the Council of State's positive decision. According to market participants, the first obstacle is that a decision is needed from regional authorities who cannot allow this activity, as it is classified as high nuisance and this is not permitted in the Attica region.
Additionally, the creation of a new shipyard by Cosco is not only a problem for the domestic shipbuilding industry but also for the whole of Europe, as the main competitors of the European shipyards are from Asia.
Reactions from shipbuilders' unions seem to have had some effect, as a delegation of workers met with Piraeus Port Authority president, Xu Zenggang, who told them that the company does intend to set up a shipyard in Perama.
It is important, however, to see what the contribution of shipyards to the Greek economy might be and what its potential revival may result in. According to studies, the shipbuilding sector was responsible collectively before the crisis (that started in 2008) for 2.4 percent of the total gross value added of manufacturing. In regards to the sector's share in employment, this amounted to 2.4 percent in 2008.
The development of the shipbuilding and repair industry may in the future contribute significantly to the trade balance, by covering a larger part of the needs of Greek shipping and also by increasing exports.
An important dimension to the role of the shipbuilding industry for the country is related to the development of technology, maritime transport safety, and national defense. Also, the country's major shipyards have the potential to significantly expand production activity, which is currently limited to projects for the country's navy.