SOUTH Korean shipbuilding capacity will swell by 90 per cent from five million gross tonnes (gt) last year to 9.5 million gt in the year 2000, surpassing Japan's nine million gt, according to Nomura Research. The research arm of Normura Securities also predicts that the widely expected advent of a global shipbuilding boom in late 1990s will not come to fruition because of a worldwide supply glut and front-loading of orders. Expansion of production facilities by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries and other major South Korean shipbuilders will boost the nation's shipbuilding capacity to 6.5 million gt in 1996 and to 9.5 million gt in 2000, the report says. And increased shipbuilding capacity of Chinese and eastern European companies will raise the global capacity for ship construction to 28.5 million gt in 2000 from 22 million gt last year. The institute expects currently falling ship prices to recover in the first half of next year as Japanese and South Korean shipbuilders have almost filled their order books until the end of 1996, and bulk carrier freight demand is on an upward trend. Meanwhile, Korean newbuilding exports are expected to pass the US$4 billion mark for the first time this year. The Korean Shipbuilders Association has announced that thanks to last year's increased orders from abroad and improved productivity among Korean shipbuilders, the country's ship exports are likely to total 14.8 million gt, worth $4.2 billion this year. The figures represent gains of 44.7 and 30.1 per cent, respectively, over last year's levels. By end-October, Korean shipbuilders, including Hyundai, Samsung, Hanjin, Halla, Daesun and Daedong, had exported 3.68 million gt worth $3.14 billion. The proportion of tankers and bulk carriers, the main export vessels, registered a decline, while exports of large containerships increased sharply, thanks to large orders from German owners. Ship exports next year are expected to hit 5.56 million gt worth $4.77 billion, and industry sources say Korean builders have secured enough orders to keep them busy for the next two years. As orders for containerships rise, Korean yards are shifting emphasis to this vessel type. Containerships have replaced tankers and bulk carriers as the country leading export item, accounting for 40 per cent of the total in the first 10 months of the year. Thirty-nine containerships aggregating 1.25 million gt were exported in the period. With worldwide demand for containerships predicted to increase until 2000, Korean builders are preparing to develop larger ships, sources say. According to an estimate by the British marine research institute, OSC, global demand for containerships will be 290,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) a year for the next six years. This means 70 vessels capable of carrying 4,000 TEUs need to be built annually until the year 2000.