General Electric Co. used to think that China would surpass the U.S. market in its consumption of GE advanced materials by 2010.
Now it thinks that projection was too conservative.
John Carrington, chief marketing officer for plastics for GE Advanced Materials in Pittsfield, Mass., said his firm now sees that milestone occurring as soon as 2008. GEAM currently does about $1 billion of business in China, and aims to triple that within three years.
He said China's Ministry of Chemicals wants the country to be among the world's top three consumers of plastics and synthetic fibers by 2010.
Carrington told attendees at the Structural Plastics 2005 conference that in the next 10 years, China will be the world's biggest market for consumer products, aircraft, power consumption and consumer finance. He also said it is likely to be the hottest health-care market, and the second- or third-largest industrial products market. He cited Chinese government statistics as saying that by 2010, the country plans to build more than 80 new airports and 360,000 miles of highways. Beijing will spend an estimated $32 billion on the 2008 Olympic Games - some $21.7 billion of it on infrastructure alone - and another $33 billion preparing for the Shanghai World Expo two years later.
He said GE is focusing on markets that it sees growing at least 8 percent per year, including DVDs, liquid-crystal-display screens, water treatment, powder coatings and buses. He termed the last category ``a huge opportunity'' for engineering thermoplastics.
Carrington, who spent four years in Tokyo for GE, noted that in 1994 the firm derived 12 percent of its sales from the Asia-Pacific region. That figure rose to 29 percent by 2004. He said Japan is placing a huge emphasis on collaboration in design and technology and is spending two to three times more than Fortune 500 firms on research and development. Sensors, solar technology and nanotechnology are priorities.