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Sabic Innovative Plastics growth plans target China

3:01 PM MDT | September 6, 2013 | Robert Westervelt

Smith: Growth expectations
in China have not changed.

Sabic Innovative Plastics continues to invest heavily to strengthen its presence in China. “It is an important market with a very large customer base,” Keith Smith, executive v.p. of Sabic Innovative Plastics tells CW. “In absolute terms, the industry has seen the largest volume growth in the world coming from China.”

China’s market needs are changing as the emphasis shifts toward meeting the needs of a rapidly growing domestic market. “What we’re finding more and more is local OEMs are focused on solving challenges in the China market, not just manufacturing for export,” Smith says.

Sabic is boosting production and R&D capabilities in China. Innovative Plastics started operations at Sabic’s $100-million R&D center in Shanghai this year, and plans to start operation at an engineering plastics compounding plant in Chongqing next year. “We are continuing to build staff for that growth, raising the bar in commercial and technical capability,” Smith says. “And we continue to expand our manufacturing presence to drive that growth.”

One of Sabic Innovative Plastics’ largest investments is a planned polycarbonate joint venture with Sinopec at Tianjin. “We have received National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approval,” Smith says. “We have ordered long lead-time proprietary equipment so the project continues to progress.” 

Smith sees strong growth opportunities across a variety of markets in China, including automotive, construction, consumer electronics, medical devices, and transportation. “We have a strong focus on these industries,” Smith says “Our objective is to continue to be proactive and anticipate industry trends and challenges, so we can take our large technical research effort and focus that on the big solutions that can enable innovation for our customers, propelling these industries forward.”

Growth rates have decelerated, but China still offers industry’s brightest growth prospects, Smith says. “Demand across the engineering thermoplastics industry in China grew last year, and is growing this year. Exactly how much it grows will be determined by domestic plans and the global economy,” Smith says. “Our enthusiasm and investment have not waned. Year to year, noise from both the domestic and global economic markets could push that demand up or down, but we do not see any long-term changes in our expectations for growth in China.

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