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China looms over plastics industry in Southeast Asia

SpecialChem / May 14, 2003

Southeast Asia, at the crossroads as an integrated economic entity, is overshadowed by three potentially traumatic factors: regional social and political stability, North America's continued potential as a major market for Asia's exports, and the looming influence of China in Asia-Pacific and worldwide. Cross-border ASEAN internal integration, as well as two-way trade with China, currently remains fragmentary and uncoordinated. China with its vast and low-cost labor pool is perceived to be the major factor that will influence future ASEAN economic development. The manufacture of goods fabricated in plastics, chiefly the production of polymer household items, toys and fabrics, has been a growth industry in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand for some decades. Attention in these countries is gradually turning to investment in the production of more sophisticated and value-added plastic products for the food, medical, pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Malaysia and Singapore have developed more advanced plastics industries, to complement their sophisticated - but now struggling - electronics sectors.

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