The South Korean shipbuilding sector has emerged as the country’s biggest steel demander, displacing the country’s auto industry.

According to the Korea Iron & Steel Association’s (Kisa) analysis of steel shipments structure for 2008, the annual steel shipments, which posted 68.869 million tons, have only shown a 0.8% year-on-year increase mainly due to the economic recession.

Local steel shipments were estimated at 51.837 million tonnes, which saw a 0.1% decline.

KISA said that shipments for distribution are declining as sales to the shipbuilding and machinery sectors are rise.