The Industrial Overview of Southeast Asia
The competitive challenges now confronting Southeast Asia have changed the basis on which new projects are being evaluated, regardless on their location. You would never think there had been an economic crisis if you examined the number of petrochemical projects that have been completed since 1997. For other Southeast Asian countries, the economic crisis has held back the further development of their petrochemical sectors. For example, Malaysia, which is in jeopardy in the category of petrochemical growth. Singapore has become an established base for very successful petrochemical production because of its excellent infrastructure and an investor-friendly, stable and corruption-free government. Indonesia had a persistent social and political instability which in May 1998 led to total economic paralysis. Indonesia still has not recovered since the fall of Suharto. After Indonesia in terms of potential petrochemical demand growth is Vietnam. Its petrochemical industry is being severely affected because of unpaid loans.
In 1998, the government unveiled its $3.5 billion Petrochemical Master Plan which had three phases. All three were failures. Like Vietnam, the Philippines have become a victim to dumping by the more established producers in Asia, say its producers.
Strengthened antidumping legislation and improved customs procedures have promised better protection. It is estimated that Thailand can export over 200,000 tons/year of ethylene capacity. There is an oversupply of ethylene so crackers (structures that do the mining of petrochemicals) will not be made for the next five years.
Southeast Asia had countries with good and bad petrochemical industries. In Thailand there is a surplus. I learned that even after the huge economic crisis, some of the countries have gotten back onto their feet. I learned that amount of petrochemical projects that have been completed in the past few years is tremendous. Even though some...