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Galician production accounts for 9% of European naval business

Navantia puts the losses registered in 2007 behind it, posting record levels of productivity and shipyard occupancy The current strength of the Galician shipbuilding and maritime industry is such that, wherever one chooses to look, the figures are simply astonishing, and, above all, solid. EU contracts for the building of 1,355 ships are currently valued at 49,945 million euros, according to information supplied by the European Association of Shipbuilders.
If one adds the income from shop construction for the Spanish market and the naval and military contracts for Navantia, the region of Galicia represents around 9% of all European business, an amount which takes on even greater relevance when one considers that this a sector which directly employs close to 145,000 people across Europe at over 240 factories, whilst in Galicia there are 10 small or medium-sized shipbuilders employing some 10,800 staff. These workers are nevertheless paid less (an average of 23,000 euros) than in more advanced countries, although more than in the Baltic States and those countries belonging to what was formerly known as Eastern Europe. This is without mentioning the extreme case of Montenegro, where the average annual salary does not even reach 1,000 euros.
At the other end of the scale is Germany, where shipbuilders earn an average of 35,000 euros a year and, above all, Denmark, where incomes of over 38,000 € per year comfortably exceed the average earnings of their fellow workers in Galicia.
The growth in the importance of the industry in the region and within the EU as a whole has been especially significant during the past year, with a two percentage point growth compared to 2006.

The Public Sector
The economic revival of the sector has been manifest both in private and publicly owned shipyards, although it is in the latter that this turnaround has been most significant. After decades of cyclical crisis and continuous losses, the public shipbuilding and maritime with the Ferrol estuary home to two of its main shipyards, has managed to join the path of profitability. Although the final close of year figures will not be known until March, Navantia, the company that emerged from the last restructuring of the public sector and which is mainly dedicated to the building of vessels for the Spanish military, estimates that, after almost three years of the company’s short history, it is due to finish 2007 in the black. The company now stands at the threshold of being able to pay out a dividend – and indeed may still be able to do – after managing to peg back losses in a spectacular fashion, reducing them from 129 million euros in 2005 to just 34 million euros in 2006.
In order to bring the debts that have so characterised public sector shipyards over recent decades under control, Navantia has had to cut its workforce in half. Of the 10,000 workers across Spain in 2004, there are now just 5,200, almost half of which are employed in Galicia.
Recent contracts signed by the company have seen order books reach record levels. The company is currently working on orders worth an estimated 6,254 million euros, over a third of which corresponds to ships under construction at the Ferrolterra shipyards. The factories along the estuary are currently building amphibious craft and frigates for the Norwegian and Spanish navies and will shortly begin work on further vessels for the Australian navy, responsible for the biggest naval export contract in the history of Spain’s public shipyards, with a total budget of 1.2 billion euros. (Fuente: La Voz de Galicia).

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