Guangzhou, China — For all the challenges in China's manufacturing sector, from slowing global growth hurting exports to rising production costs within the country, it remains the world's largest market for plastics and a significant driver for industry growth.
China, for example, will account for more than half of the total global increase in demand for polyethylene, the workhorse of polymer markets, through 2021, according to a January study from consulting firm IHS Markit.
The economic slowdown has had an impact, of course: Germany, the largest foreign supplier of plastics and rubber machinery to China, saw its exports drop 4 percent in 2016, on top of a 19 percent drop in 2015.
But China remains Germany's second-largest plastics machinery export market, after the United States, and the upgrading going on within the country's manufacturers and plastics industry has foreign suppliers scouting for opportunities.
German machinery maker KraussMaffei Group, for example, said it's "in a position" for double-digit annual sales growth in the country for several years, said Xiaojun Cui, CEO of KraussMaffei China.
KM was bought last year by Beijing-based China National Chemical Corp., and KM executives at Chinaplas said being part of ChemChina gives them access to state-owned companies that would have been harder to sell to before.