CHICAGO (June 26, 1:25 p.m. EDT) — Which Asian tiger can roar the loudest?
Plastics industry officials from China, India and Vietnam spent Thursday morning at an NPE 2000 forum on international business opportunities, trying to outdo each other on growth projections for their markets.
China clearly led the way. Officials from that country said its population of 1.25 billion consumes about 35 billion pounds of plastics a year. Indian officials, by comparision, said the 1 billion people there consume about 6.6 billion pounds of plastic a year.
Some U.S. plastics industry trade officials, however, have said privately that they consider the Indian numbers more reliable than the Chinese figures.
Not to be outdone, a representative of the Vietnamese plastics industry said that nation consumes about 2 billion pounds of plastics a year, is growing about 30 percent annually and is projected to hit 4 billion pounds in a decade.
The representatives, along with a U.S. Department of Commerce official based in Russia, spoke at a forum sponsored by the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.´s International Trade Advisory Committee.
Zhengpin Liao, president and secretary general of the China Plastics Processing Association in Beijing, highlighted agriculture and construction markets, and said the country should speed up recycling of plastic foams.
Speaking through a translator, he said the local plastics machinery market is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent.
India will need 5,000 plastic machines a year for the next decade, and domestic industry can supply only about 80 percent of those, said Kamal Nanavaty, president of the crackers and polymers business for Reliance Industries Ltd. in Mumbai, India. Nanavaty is responsible for olefins, polyolefins, PVC and PET.
About half of that demand will be for injection presses, slightly more than one-third for extrusion and the rest for blow molding, he said.
India currently uses about 6.6 pounds of plastic per person annually, compared with 22 pounds in China and the global average of 37.4, he said.
In an interview after his speech, he said China uses a lot more agricultural products than India, and he added that India started its economic reforms 15 years after China. But he predicts it will catch up rapidly.
"Unfortunately, for whatever reason, India is not in the vision of U.S. companies," he said. "There is this herd mentality. Every CEO goes to China."
He predicts India will consume 27 billion pounds of plastic a year by 2010, because of growing population and growing urbanization. Packaging will account for more than half of that growth, he said.
Reliance is building a $30 million high density polyethylene pipe plant for the telecommunications market, he said.
In Vietnam, government priorities mean that plastics growth will come in the housing market, in manufacture of deep sea fishing boats and in agriculture, said Dang Van Thanh, marketing director for the Vietnam Saigon Plastics Association. The southern part of the country and the Mekong Delta are promising markets, he said.