China’s real-estate market is facing a crisis, but the country’s shipping industry is hot with shipyards running out of early delivery slots and shipping companies expanding their fleets.

This was the sentiment gathered at TradeWinds Shipowners Forum, which was held in Shanghai on 26 March — the first since 2019.

About 250 shipping executives attended the forum held at the JW Marriott hotel in Tomorrow Square.

The half-day event was filled with insightful market presentations and discussions between shipowners, bankers, charterers, shipbuilders and others.

Li Jiatu of China Shipbuilding Consulting Co, a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Co, said Chinese leasing companies were looking to finance eco-fuel ships and diversify the vessel types from conventional container ships, bulkers and tankers to gas carriers.

Li said the Chinese leasing market witnessed slower growth of its shipping portfolio over the past few years, but the number of Chinese leasing companies has increased.

About 25 Chinese companies are offering US dollar financing, almost twice the number four years ago, making the leasing market more competitive.

With China being the world’s leading shipbuilding nation, topics on shipbuilding capacity and decarbonisation were also discussed at the forum.

American Bureau of Shipping’s global sustainability director, Shu Yong Koh, said newbuildings alone will not be enough for the industry to achieve zero-carbon targets.

Retrofitting existing ships with carbon reduction technology will be part of the industry’s zero-carbon advancement.

The event also served as a platform for networking for “newcomers” such as Wanjiang Financial Leasing, which is engaged in Chinese yuan leasing deals but is now looking to do US-dollar projects.

Former shipbuilder Simon Lian Xiaolei who has been away from the shipping industry for the past five years, also attended the event.

Liang is making a comeback but not as a shipbuilder. He has formed a new company that will own and design offshore and supply vessels.