Experts expect Malaysia's plastics industry to grow by 10 percent this year, with exports up 15 percent.
That growth would put overall industry sales at 17.4 billion ringgits (US$5 billion) and exports at RM9.1 billion (US$2.65 billion). Those figures repeat a 2005 trend, when the plastics industry overall grew 9 percent to RM15.3 billion (US$4.5 billion), amid exports increasing 16 percent to RM6.7 billion (US$1.97 billion).
As industry grows in the country, the plastics sector's future depends on how well it competes globally, said Lim Kok Boon, president of the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association. Lim spoke at the second Malaysian-German Plastics Conference, held April 2-3 in Kuala Lumpur.
To help the plastics industry maintain its competitiveness, MPMA has drawn up a three-pronged strategy, he said.
First, the trade group will develop the Malaysian-German Plastics Conference to help local plastics businesses with technical upgrades and progress. MPMA and the German Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association put together the first show two years ago. MPMA also will arrange for its members to visit premier trade shows this year, such as Chinaplas in May and Germany's K show in October, and to see the latest technical developments.
Second, MPMA is focusing on information and operational management. The association organizes market-trend seminars to provide members with raw material market developments for better business planning.
MPMA's third strategy is the expansion of marketing channels, as it organizes more promotional missions this year, having visited Brazil and Argentina last year.
Lim pointed out that Malaysian plastics processors are upgrading production by importing European machines based on the latest technology.
``Traditionally, most of the machines used in Malaysia were imported from Asian countries,'' he said. ``But during the last 10 years, imports from European countries have increased rather substantially.
``Significant enough, imports from German machine suppliers are ranked No. 1 of all imports from Europe.''