PHILIPPINES: Chemical exports to exceed $2 billion

Roberto F. Batungbacal, country manager of Dow Chemical Pacific Limited, said that final exports of chemical products in 2011 could have reached $1.8 billion. Data from the National Statistics Office showed that chemical exports reached $1.7 billion as November last year or 30 percent higher than 2010.

According to Batungbacal, 90 percent of chemical products that are produced globally follow the economic trend.

"If the Philippine economy will grow 6 percent this year as projected then we will continue to post robust growth,” he said.

Exports from the chemical sector have been growing 30 percent in the past few years.

Last year was phenomenal because the growth slowed down but the chemical sector still continued to maintain its 30 percent growth.

The industry exports oleochemicals, polyethylene, polypropylene and plastic products. One of the biggest exporters of chemicals in the country is the Iranian-owned National Petrochemical Alliance, which exports 100 percent of its total production.

Batungbacal also placed the value of the total chemical industry's production in terms of revenues at $6 billion or P270 billion.

Imported chemicals, which mostly serve as raw material inputs to domestic manufacturing, reached $4 billion in 2011 alone.

"Roughly, we have a $10-billion local chemical market,” Batungbacal said.

With the expansion of Petron Corporation's refinery plant and the production of new and improved products, this would further boost industry growth. A big portion of the chemical sector's raw materials comes from oil, said Batungbacal.

He noted that growth in the chemical industry used to be insignificant, but it was only in the past four years that they have been averaging an annual growth rate of 30 percent.

Batungbacal also noted that future growth in the sector would be supported with the entry of the naphtha cracker plant of JG Summit Petrochemicals Corp. and expansion of existing chemical companies.

His company, Dow Chemicals Philippines is now ranked as one of the fastest growing in the Asia Pacific. Dow is a raw materials supplier to local manufacturing industries.

Growth in the chemical sector, he said, would be supported by the strong growth in other industries such as the construction sector, energy, mining, metals and plastic.

The 530-hectare PNOC AFC Industrial Park (formerly Philippine Petrochemical Development Corp.), which is situated between the municipalities of Limay and Mariveles, houses the following petrochemical firms: Philippine Resins Industries, Inc., NPC Alliance Corporation, and Phoenix Polypropylene Plant (formerly Petrocorp) that process petroleum by-products for rubber and plastic industries.

Source: Daily "Manila Bulletin", Manila; 27 Jan 2012

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)