Singapore is focusing on technology and innovation to upgrade its chemical industry production into engineering polymers, performance chemicals and advanced materials, said S. Iswaran, minister of State for Trade and Industry.
That approach is designed to counter competitive pressure, especially from petrochemical industries in the Middle East, India and China, he said at the Asia Petrochemical Industry conference, held May 27-28 in Singapore.
He said Singapore will climb the value chain using Japanese know-how.
``Our industry will need to tap your expertise to move into these new areas quickly, to keep abreast of the competition,'' he told delegates from Mitsubishi and conference participants.
Iswaran pointed out that the Asian advanced chemical product trade is growing in tandem with the needs of the region's societies, which are becoming more sophisticated.
``We understand that many specialty products are closely tailored to serve consumers' needs. Therefore, companies will need to be close to the market in all aspects of the value chain,'' he said.
He highlighted Singapore's abilities in manufacturing, and research and development.
``Our extensive physical linkages and free-trade-agreement networks also make us an ideal location to manage regional supply-chain activities,'' he said.
Singapore's chemical industry, comprising petroleum refining, petrochemical processing and plastics manufacturing, generated 2007 sales of S$81.7 billion (US$60 billion) last year.
Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang applauded global petrochemical industries in pursuing businesses in Asia and noted some of the international names that have made the island state their Asian base.
He assured listeners Singapore remains mindful of its need to be a global citizen and ensure not just the competitiveness, but also the environmental sustainability, of its petrochemical industry.
He pointed out that Singapore's government is taking steps to enhance energy efficiency, attain water self-sufficiency and manage emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and carbon dioxide at its petrochemical and refining hub estate on Jurong Island.
Lim highlighted some key technologies and new innovation-based projects he said are more energy efficient, generate less waste and result in better yield than previous efforts.
One example, he said, is Lucite International Ltd.'s first commercial-scale acrylic facility, being constructed in Singapore, which uses Lucite's latest Alpha technology.
Unlike conventional processes, the Alpha technology does not require the use of hydrogen cyanide as a raw material, and the process is expected to be almost 40 percent more energy efficient.
Other chemical companies with R&D labs in Singapore include BASF AG's Nanostructured Surfaces and Organic Electronics lab, 3M Co. and Mitsui Chemicals Inc.