SHANGHAI Feb 16 (Reuters) - The China Shipowners Association (CSA) said on Thursday it will closely monitor Brazilian miner Vale's mega vessel operations as one of its top priorities this year, underscoring the intense pressure Vale faces from its largest customer.
China is the world's largest iron ore importer, and Vale is spending billions of dollars on a fleet of giant ore carriers, called Valemaxes, to slash transport costs and speed up shipments to its top customer.
But the miner's ambitious plans have collided with stiff protest from the influential CSA, which fears the mega vessels will harm the domestic shipping industry and has successfully lobbied Beijing to slap a ban on Valemaxes from docking at Chinese ports.
"The global freight market will remain sluggish and the glut faced by the shipping sector won't improve in the short term," the CSA said on its website.
Local media reported that some Chinese shipyards have not received new orders since the middle of last year, putting them on the brink of going bankrupt unless the shipping sector improves.