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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL — Global sourcing for automobile projects in Brazil has resulted in several raw material suppliers beginning to produce their own product lines locally.

``Nowadays, international product specifications arrive more frequently, which require us to offer in South America the same products available and approved abroad,'' said Roland Dubois, marketing and development manager at Rhodia SA, the Brazilian subsidiary of Rhone-Poulenc Group.

The company has been producing nylon 6 compounds in Brazil since September, using compounding technology from Nyltech, a joint venture between Rhone-Poulenc of France and Italy's Snia Group.

The compounding activity is being developed at Rhodia's existing Sao Bernardo do Campo and Santo Andre facilities, located in Sao Paulo's greater metropolitan region, and where the company already possesses nylon 6/6 polymerization and compounding operations.

Together, the units can provide 39 million pounds per year of nylon compounds and 132 million pounds of nylon 6/6, which is used for making compounds as well as supplying textile fibers to industry, according to Dubois. He did not disclose which companies provide nylon 6 to Rhodia, or the respective capacities of each plant.

According to Dubois, the new activity did not demand any additional investment.

During 1995-96, Rhodia invested $2.5 million to expand its nylon compounding capacity from 26 million pounds to 39 million pounds per year and to purchase two new extrusion machines — an Italian Maris and a German Werner & Pfleiderer.

The nylon 6 initiative represents the introduction of the Technyl C basic product line, to complement the Technyl A line (nylon 6/6 compounds) and Technyl B (nylon 6-6/6 compounds), Dubois said.

The Technyl C line includes glass-reinforced and heat-protection grades. Other special types of nylon 6 compounds also are offered by Rhodia's Brazilian facilities, according to the company.

Starting the nylon 6 activity in Brazil was a strategic business decision by Rhodia, said Dubois. According to his figures, South America absorbs about 60 million pounds per year of nylon compounds, of which about one-third is nylon 6.

In Brazil, total demand is about 46 million pounds annually, including about 11 million pounds of nylon 6.

In five years, Rhodia expects to hold 50 percent of the nylon 6 compound market in South America, which it expects to reach 18 million pounds per year by 2001.