Overseas construction orders hit 10-year low

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Overseas construction orders hit 10-year low

Korea’s overseas construction orders fell to a 10-year low last year, due partly to low global oil prices that led to a sharp drop in orders from oil-producing countries in the Middle East, market data showed Monday.

In 2016, overseas construction orders clinched by Korean builders amounted to some $28.19 billion, the lowest since $16.47 billion posted in 2006, according to the data compiled by the International Contractors Association of Korea.

The 2016 tally also marks a 38.9 percent plunge from a year earlier. The drop also followed a 30.1 percent on-year decline in 2015.

Middle Eastern countries were previously the world’s largest market for Korean construction firms.

Construction orders from the Middle East had easily accounted for more than 70 percent of all overseas orders won by builders here. However, in 2016, orders from that region plunged more than 35 percent on-year to $10.7 billion won, accounting for only 38 percent of the total, according to the data.

Orders from Asian countries also tumbled 35.7 percent on-year to $12.67 billion.

Amid a steady decline in overseas orders, local builders are apparently shrinking their overseas business.

“We cannot entirely give up the overseas section, but also cannot commit a significant amount of resources while the sector is producing little or no outcome,” an official from a local construction firm said.

Already, Posco Engineering & Construction has either laid off or relocated some 500 workers from its overseas plant department, while GS Engineering & Construction Corp. is relocating employees from the overseas section to local projects, according to company officials. Many, however, forecast an improvement in the global construction market this year as oil prices recover. YONHAP

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