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The Polyurethane Manufacturers Association may extend its guest membership program to Australian PU companies.

The group addressed the possibility at its annual spring meeting, held April 12-16 in Houston.

About 19 Australian PU firms, mostly processors, have shown interest in forming a relationship with the PMA. The association formed a three-member ad hoc committee to determine the most useful alliance, PMA President Richard Manson said.

The committee recommended PMA develop a relationship with Australian firms under the guest member program, said Paul Blasco, PMA vice president and ad hoc committee member.

The affiliation will be similar to PMA's allegiance to the Canadian Urethane Manufacturers Association, he said. PMA will provide information to help Australia form its own PU association.

``Australia firms are always welcome to join the PMA,'' Blasco said.

PMA decided against forming an Australian branch because countries have varying regulations, although what happens abroad potentially affects all PU companies, Blasco said.

Australia's interest in developing an alliance with PMA is not surprising, Manson said. The PU business is becoming more international, particularly since chemical concerns have entered the spotlight.

The global PU market also gathers additional weight as urethane applications become more widespread, Blasco said.

``Today, urethane is being used in ways that were [not thought] of 25 years ago,'' he said.

In conjunction with the Australian prospect, PMA will promote goals set in place last year, Manson said. The group will focus on growing the PU elastomer industry for member firms, implementing self-certification programs and hiking the PMA's membership 5 percent per year.

``I'm very excited about all our goals,'' Manson said.

The association this year will streamline its efforts to meet the goals.

``Right now, we're prioritizing things to really help get the important programs rolling,'' Manson said.