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Clariant seeks to expand footprint in nation with new facilities in pipeline

By ZHENG XIN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-19 09:08
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Visitors gather at Clariant's booth during an expo in Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Clariant, a Swiss specialty chemical company, is bullish about its market growth in China and vows more chemical facilities this year to further expand its footprint in the country, said a top company official.

"We are bullish about our business for this year and believe the Chinese chemical market will achieve even better growth compared to last year, said Conrad Keijzer, CEO of Clariant, during a recent interview.

"As the Chinese chemical market accounted for around 40 percent of our total chemical demand last year, with the percentage expected to keep climbing, China has become Clariant's biggest source of revenue so far," Keijzer said.

"At least one-third of the company's growth capital expenditure goes to China and we believe the trend will only accelerate this year and in the years to come," he added.

Clariant announced on Wednesday the opening of its new CATOFIN catalyst production site in Jiaxing, East China's Zhejiang province, adding to its nearby catalyst plants in Jinshan and catalyst research and development center in Shanghai to further facilitate the company's expanding footprint in China.

CATOFIN is a catalyst for propane dehydrogenation that is used in the production of olefins such as propylene.

Keijzer said the country's carbon goals will lead to strong demand for chemical products and it is a positive sign that the Chinese government has been prioritizing economic growth. The economic recovery will bring more opportunities for the company.

The Chinese government's plans to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 will provide more opportunities for multinational corporations like Clariant as the government has been setting high standards when it comes to emissions in recent years, Keijzer said.

"The increasing demand from our customers to lower their carbon footprint also leads to continuous growth for our business in China. We will keep investing in the country, especially in the research and development sectors, to achieve faster growth in the Chinese market," he added.

An analyst said China's scale and development pace are no match worldwide, which is very attractive to multinational companies for investment in the chemical sector.

There is massive potential in the petrochemical sector in China, which has been attracting increasing international players in recent years, said Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.

Clariant plans to develop two halogen-free flame retardants production facilities in Daya Bay in Guangdong province with one to be put into operation this year with a total investment of $100 million, together with a new $80 million investment in chemicals for personal and home care, industrial applications and pharma industries.

Keijzer said Clariant achieved revenue growth of 23 percent in China last year despite COVID-19 headwinds. As China's GDP growth is rebounding to over 5 percent in 2023, the company is confident that growth in the Chinese market will further climb with the opening of the new plants.

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