GIANT bulk-ship operator Navix, of Japan, is relocating a substantial part of the company outside the country as it embarks upon a major cost-cutting exercise, according to Lloyd's List. Navix is shifting its management operations to Singapore, where the company already has a substantial presence, because of the effects of recession and the strong yen in Japan. When the move is completed in about three months, affiliate Navix Marine will manage about 60 ships outside Japan. It will employ 15 staff relocated from Tokyo plus some 25 Singaporeans. Navix president Kazuo Ishii, who was in London to meet European customers, told Lloyd's List that the Japanese carrier's priority was to improve competitiveness. The company would also be looking at other overseas locations and was hoping to make further economies by shifting other functions outside Japan, he said. Mr Ishii believes there is little hope of be any major improvement in the Japanese economy within the next two years. Navix, which emerged from the 1989 merger of Yamashita-Shinnihon and Japan Line, is increasingly looking around the region for growth, with the heavy industries of Japan giving way to those on the Asian mainland. ''Our important customers will change,'' Mr Ishii said, noting that Navix had increasingly close relations with Chinese charterers, perhaps its biggest potential customers. Chinese crude-steel production capacity is soaring and imports of 25 million tonnes of iron ore per year expected to double by the end of the century.