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Asian Chemical Connections

China attempts to move up the value chain

Petrochemical markets are being badly ruffled by two recent Chinese government decisions. In late June, there was the decision to change the VAT export rebate system for yuan-priced product. And then this week there was a widening of the deposit rules governing import duty and VAT rebates on petchem imports priced in US dollars. But […]

China’s crackers are on track. Is this bad news?

The consultants, traders and producers I spoke to last week insist that the current wave of new Chinese ethylene capacity due on stream in the current Five-Year Plan (2006-10), Download file is more or less on track to be completed on schedule. Also see on these slides the ICIS insight Asia list of crackers after […]

China will choke itself to death

I think it’s about time that the developing world stopped saying “you did it, so why can’t we?” when the West raises concerns over rising pollution levels in China, India etc. In the “good” old days my home country, the UK, had lots of dark, gritty and satanic mills, which were almost as ugly as […]

Rebranding the chemicals industry

The industry we work either for or with is about as popular as George Bush Junior at I was about to say a wedding party in the Gaza Strip; but actually probably about as popular as George Bush at just about any wedding party in the world, even in some parts of Texas these days. […]

Are We On A Different Planet?

“Hello, my name is John Richardson. I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet.” Before you think I’ve been at the methanol again, please follow this link to the fantastic BBC TV series, […]

No more pessimism for a couple of weeks

You maybe relieved, on the day the Chinese government introduces measures to cool stock markets resulting in sharp fall in the Shanghai Exchange, that I am going on leave for a couple of weeks. Perhaps I’ll feel the sun on my back (unlikely as I’ll be visiting Scotland), come back with renewed optimism and not […]

Is this the death of cycles?

Quite possibly, yes, despite my instinctiive pessimism. Perhaps emerging markets such as China and India have reached such a critical mass that no matter how much capacity is brought on stream, it will be easily absorbed. Or maybe some disaster lies just around the corner. Who cares if you’ve made your money in the most […]

Life gets more complicated in the Middle East

In the old days all you had to do was propose an ethane cracker with PE and MEG downstream and you were away. But these days if you want to get feedstock, especially in Saudi, you need to offer something a bit different because of the drive to diversify to create jobs. This is a […]

Watch out for the Black Swans and dump the consultants

The former trader turned professor, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his new book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable warns against the danger of forecasting. Forecasting is, obviously, always based on what he know and not what we don’t know. A Black Swan, by the way, is an earth-shattering event we didn’t predict […]

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