SEA Chemicals Need To Learn From The Past

China, Company Strategy, Economics, Europe, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Polyolefins, Singapore, Thailand

By John Richardson

THE whinging is getting almost unbearable in Southeast Asia over the Asean-China Free-Trade Agreement (ACFTA).

The deal was under discussion for EIGHT years and yet chemicals and polymer producers and customers seem to have left it until after-the-fact to start raising objections.

Indonesian industry association representatives have gone as far as to suggest that 7.5m out of the country’s total of 30m manufacturing jobs are under the threat as a result of ACTFA.

And at a conference in Singapore today I had to endure polymer producers from Southeast Asia moaning about not being able to compete with big bad China.

“There’s no point in complaining now. What needed to happen was for industry representatives to take an active interest in negotiations for these free-trade deals right from when they first began,” said a well-informed source.

“But instead this was pushed to the back of the collective mind. Clearly, China’s competitive position has improved greatly since the talks started eight years ago, which is exactly why producers should have been constantly engaged in the debate.

“It will be very, very difficult to change the terms of ACTFA now because of the level of politics involved.”

The approach of the Southeast Asian industry players was in stark contrast to that of their counterparts in India who managed to get petrochemicals excluded from an India-South Korea free-trade deal a few years ago, he added.

Have the lessons being learnt? Let’s hope so as discussions take place for Singapore-European Union (EU), Thailand-EU, Vietnam-EU, Indonesia-EU and Malaysia-EU free-trade deals.

More on these negotiations later on.


M&As - value creation or destruction?


By Malini Hariharan The current slowdown in M&As is perhaps for the best as...

Learn more

What's next for Reliance?


By Malini Hariharan Reliance Industries appears to have hit the end of the road ...

Learn more
More posts
US/China trade deal achieves little as China pushes hard towards petrochemicals self-sufficiency

By John Richardson PRESIDENT Trump has promised a “tremendous amount of business” for US farmers...

Global polyethylene in 2020: Margins will reach historic lows as new growth model emerges

Here is a first of a series of outlook articles for 2020 where I focus on the risks ahead for the gl...

Long term downcycle will transform global petrochemicals, creating new Winners and Losers

By John Richardson THIS IS not a normal downcycle. Please get over that idea however many people, bo...

Asian PE and PP margins at lowest levels in at least five years and will go lower……

By John Richardson NOT since at least the beginning of 2014 have Northeast and Southeast Asian polye...

Asian polypropylene market heads for major 2020 downturn

By John Richardson THE ASIAN polypropylene (PP) market hasn’t been as bad as the region’s polyet...

China new vehicle sales: A long term decline and what this means for petrochemicals

By John Richardson THE MAINSTREAM view is that there is nothing fundamental about the decline in new...

Asian copolymer polyproplyene used as a sink for growing oversupply of ethylene

By John Richardson A SURE sign that the Asian ethylene-to-polyethylene (PE) markets are distressed c...

Asian polyethylene shutdowns? Once again, good luck with that idea

By John Richardson I was new to the game as I had only been analysing the petrochemicals business fo...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more