Written by Tang Yi / Translated by Chen Zhiying
Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, with a vast reservoir of petroleum resources, is the major provider of oil in South East Asia and of liquid natural gases around the world; Myanmar has a good reputation for oil and natural gases; Malaysia has already had cooperation with China in the area and it becomes increasingly close day by day... All these claim that petrochemical industry has always been an important area for cooperation and development between China and ASEAN countries.
As a major exchange platform between China and ASEAN, while pushing bilateral economic and trade cooperation in petrochemical industry further, ChinaASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) also strives to build a bridge for establishing a high-level dialogue mechanism between both sides in the industry, to deepen bilateral cooperation and let both sides share the win-win development brought by the industrial, supply, and value chains under the dual circulation strategy.
Solid foundation in petrochemical cooperation
ASEAN countries have abundant crude oil reserves, but the serious lack of capital and technology hampers their exploration, processing, and trade, while China, with advanced technology long accumulated in this area, is complementary to the region and provides a basic guarantee for deepening bilateral cooperation in petrochemical industry.
The rapid growth of China’s economy and the surging demands of energy and consumption make petrochemical industry of both sides more potential and cooperation prospects in this area broader. Focusing on the resource endowment, industrial structures, and sector features of the petrochemical industry in China and ASEAN countries, CAEXPO set relevant exhibitions and created new opportunities for enterprises each year.
At the 14th CAEXPO in 2017, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy of Brunei and Chairman of Hengyi Group Qiu Jianlin signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation of Phase II Petrochemical Project in Pular Muara Besar. “The investment of Phase II is three times than that of Phase I, which means Phase II is much larger in scale,” said Chen Liancai, CEO of Hengyi Industries Sdn. Bhd. He also added that the project could help Brunei further extend its oil and gas industrial chains.
“Brunei is trying to change its industrial structures which are solely depend on oil and gas industries and making great efforts to diversify economy,” said Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at the 14th CAEXPO. He welcomed more Chinese enterprises to make investments and carry out cooperation in multi fields, to achieve mutual benefits and win-win results.
CAEXPO, at the same time, provided a display platform for Chinese petrochemical enterprises. It showcased the latest technological achievements made by enterprises and helped domestic and overseas enterprises reach more cooperation.
“When I saw this red exhibition hall from afar, it looked familiar to me. It turned out to be the exhibition hall of SINOPEC, where we often refuel!” At the 17th CAEXPO in 2020, SINOPEC made its debut. Raw materials and end products showcased in its main exhibition area include para-aramid fibers, anti-cutting vests, level-3 PU anti-cutting gloves, etc., demonstrating the significant contributions that SINOPEC has made in fields such as construction, medical care, health, hygiene, and scientific research.
At the 18th CAEXPO in 2021, equipment of Liuhzou Xinyu Smart Gas Station such as online tax control management system for gas stations, smart fuel dispensers, and explosion-proof anti-pry refueling devices attracted many professional visitors’ eyes at the Smart Equipment (Smart Energy and Electricity) Exhibition Area in Nanning International Convention & Exhibition Center District E.
Sufficient opportunities for petrochemical cooperation
Under the background of RCEP’s official entry into force in 2022, the 19th CAEXPO is a good opportunity o deepen petrochemical cooperation, no matter for China or for ASEAN countries.
At the 19th CAEXPO, ASEAN’s most valuable brand PETRONAS made a presence with its Chinese joint venture Guangxi Beihai Yuchai Petronas High Quality Lube Co., Ltd. They aim to speed up cooperation in energy transition and build a green energy community under new opportunities brought by RCEP.
Ms. Li Yan, President of PETRONAS (China) said: “China is a broad and resilient market. It is a critical part of our global business strategy. Through CAEXPO, a major communication platform between China and Malaysia, PETRONAS hopes to deepen exchanges with Chinese cooperation partners and jointly discuss important topics like energy safety and transition, to achieve the goal of a net zero future with more Chinese partners.
Guangxi, the permanent venue of CAEXPO, taking advantage of being complementary to ASEAN, having a basis for international production capacity, and featuring close crossborder industrial cooperation, prioritizes product ion capacity
cooperation with ASEAN and takes petrochemical industry as an important pillar for industrial revitalization.
In recent years, depending on good location, ports, and transportation, Guangxi has made great efforts to develop petrochemical industry and has seen fruitful results. Take Guangxi Qinzhou Petrochemical Industrial Base for an example. It successfully built China National Petroleum Corporation’s 10-million-ton modern refinery and introduced a batch of backbone enterprises, laying a good foundation for industrial development. According to Lin Guan, Secretary of CPC Qinzhou Municipal Committee, by 2025, investment made by Qinzhou in petrochemical and new materials would reach 200 billion yuan, with an annual output value of more than 200 billion yuan. At that time, Qinzhou would become a national advanced petrochemical industry base facing ASEAN.
Broad cooperation prospects for petrochemical industry
Under the carbon peaking and carbon neutrality nowadays, CAEXPO is continuously building platforms for petrochemical enterprises to achieve green transformation and upgrade. It also shares the latest development, project investment, and trade exchange soft he petrochemical industry, as well as the market opportunities and the latest achievements of the industry’s green process technology.
The China-ASEAN Petroleum and Chemical Forum for International Cooperation (CAPCFIC) under the CAEXPO was held in 2020 for the first time. In that year, the Blue Paper on China-ASEAN Petroleum and Chemical Industry Investment Environment 2020 was officially released. It centered on researching the investment opportunities and risks in petrochemical industry in the China-ASEAN region, analyzed the investment layout and R&D innovation of representative countries in key regions such as China and ASEAN countries, and summarized the industry’s current trends and characteristics in development strategy, industrial layout, innovative research and development, investment and M&A, and sustainable development. By these, the book provided a reference for petrochemical enterprises to make investment, assisted in industria transformation and upgrading, and provided suggestions and intellectual support for investors’ localized operation.
The 3rd CAPCFIC in 2022, themed on “Sharing the New Opportunities of RCEP and Embracing the New Future”, set two parallel sub-forums, discussing “International Cooperation in Chemical Fiber and Textile” and “Fine Chemicals and New Materials”
respectively. Experts and scholars at the forum held in-depth talks on China-ASEAN petrochemical industry cooperation and trade, and prospects of high-end chemical industries in the post-pandemic era, giving suggestions for China-ASEAN petrochemical cooperation and the industry’s green development.
According to Li Shousheng, President of China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association (CPCIA), the next ten years is a decisive moment for China to become a powerful petrochemical country from a major one. The whole sector is fighting a tough battle to secure high-quality development in the future. He suggested making full use of low import and export costs and increasing export opportunities brought by
the tariff reduction under RCEP, to enhance cooperation in trade between China and ASEAN countries. Also, it’s suggested to utilize broader investment markets brought by the RCEP to integrate and optimize regional industrial, supply, and value chains. Scientific and technological exchanges should be strengthened to speed up the construction of a closer China-ASEAN scientific and technological innovation partnership.
2023 marks the 20th anniversary of CAEXPO. Under the great opportunities brought by RCEP’s high-quality implementation and the version 3.0 of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, petrochemical cooperation between China and ASEAN countries is expected to scale to new heights.
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