China's rotational molding industry says it is looking for foreign investment to boost its technology and tap unmet domestic demand the small firms in the sector have trouble meeting.
China's small and largely domestic-oriented rotomolding sector has thus far had little foreign investment, but in interviews at a recent industry conference, executives said they are looking for foreign capital and partnerships to boost a sector they said has made some innovations but has generally been forced to develop on its own.
Industry officials said the sector has been growing, driven in part by China's sizable infrastructure needs, and by metal replacement in the marine industry and other areas.
While solid data on the industry is hard to find, organizers of the 2009 China Rotomolding Conference, held Sept. 14-15 in Wenzhou, estimate resin consumption will grow 20 percent annually for the next five years, from a base of about 110.2 million pounds now.
Luo Hongyu , general manager of one of China's largest rotomolding firms, Cixi Deshun Container Co. Ltd. in Ningbo, said China's industry would like more foreign involvement.
He said a group of about 60 Australian rotomolding executives toured the country in 2005 and concluded that the technology level was still low. But Luo said that is changing, as companies have upgraded and more foreign buyers have come to China to source.
In recent years Chinese rotomolders have developed fast, and we think now is the time to invest, he said. We want a chance to cooperate with foreign factories.
Deshun last year built a factory to make rotomolding equipment and molds, expanding beyond its previous focus on only making rotomolded products.
He said the company saw a gap in the quality of machines available locally and also has been exporting its machines to Egypt, Malaysia, Spain, Indonesia and Algeria.
Another Chinese equipment maker, Fangda Rotational Molding Co. Ltd. of Yantai, said the local industry's development has been hurt by a lack of good design and good engineering.
Fangda General Manager Lin Baoshu said there is a lot of unmet demand in China's local market for infrastructure, construction and water-treatment projects, where foreign firms could enter the market. We have not had enough good and new products to supply the market, Lin said.
Chinese rotomolders have made good investments in improving design and the industry has developed quickly and can meet some of the domestic needs.
But Lin said China lacks a university program, like the rotomolding program at the Queen's University of Belfast in Northern Ireland, which could supply a foundation of theory and scholarship to help companies advance.
He said he exports his equipment to Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Germany.
The lack of foreign involvement in China's industry contrasts with India, where foreign firms are starting to set up joint ventures in rotomolding, according to interviews Plastics News conducted at an industry conference in India in February.
Lin, who said his chief machinery competitors are from India, said language could be a barrier to foreign investment in China's sector.
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