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The past two months, since our last column, have seen so many changes, that it feels like a year has passed - pricing volatility has returned and even some spot shortages have popped up in Europe. To the above add the integration of distribution into manufacturing (GE/Cadco/Comco) and continued alliances in e-commerce as well as a proliferation of websites selling materials and offering unprecedented and free information swiftly. Thus the notion of "dog years" (seven years condensed into one) is upon us. To blink is to miss opportunities a to both grow and indeed survive. Let's look at some of these opportunities.

EXPORT(China) - The applications of plastics in the Chinese Electronics Industry include PVC, PE, Cross-linked PE, nylon, and fluorinated plastics.

Consumption of Engineering Plastics by Chinese Industry (source - China Plastic & Rubber Journal)

Electrical/Electronics Appliances






Dairy and Food Products




In addition to the above markets and applications, China is experiencing a huge gap between supply and demand typified by the following statistics:





1.3 billion kg

614,067 kg


95.5 million kg

1.3 million kg


711.9 million kg

652,129 kg


1.9 million kg

16,320 kg

Thus, the opportunities now exist for accelerated exports of sheet, rod, tube and film to China from North America and Europe - time to get on bid lists via the web and the Chinese embassy and Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., NY. Chicago and L.A. to name a few contact points. Other export opportunities arc to Russia, Korea, and India.

In Europe, the EC has cleared Bayer and Rohm's agreement to merge their PC sheet business into Makroform - this leaves Barlo, Arla, and GE in sheet and Dow in resin. There are some spot shortages in MMA and PC sheet in Europe and some limited export opportunities exist there as well, especially in continuous cast acrylic sheet.

Other Asian export opportunities are looming in Thailand and the Philippines, where economies are on the rebound and gaps exist between supply and demand. GE Plastics alone is building a 30,000 ton engineering plastics (Lexan, Noryl, etc.) plant which will stimulate the market for shapes.

E-COMMERCE: A new site - has started up to the UK - starting out with resin and probably adding shapes as other sites have. Soon the IPFA will help its Fabricator members band together to enhance buying power. The recent success of is proving the viability of a well thought-out website that contributes valuable communications to its industry - with something for everyone - from machinery to materials to employment to publications. This is a standard that has been set for others to follow.

Just a final word (for this particular column only) about e-commerce - these are unusual opportunities for small business in particular, to look through the window onto the world of plastics and competing globally in both buying and selling - something formerly reserved for only the largest corporations.

In the words of Jack Welch, CFO of GE "people who can't use the internet in a company can be regarded as illiterate. This is the ticket for doing business." (interview in Actualidad Econonica Spanish business weekly -July 2000).

For more information, click on the Authors Biography at the top of this page.

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