Written by Tang Yi / Translated by Xie Zongming
The building materials industry is one of the important material industries in China, whose downstream industries are mainly infrastructure and real estate. In recent years, how to achieve energy conservation and emission reduction with green building materials under the goals of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality has become a popular and well-discussed topic in the industry.
Playing as a bridge connecting China and ASEAN for economic and trade cooperation, the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) takes the lead in industry chain cooperation. By setting up the Green Building Materials Section, the CAEXPO promotes the exchange and cooperation between Chinese and ASEAN green building materials industries, which further assists the industries’ development. As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) enters into force, the CAEXPO will also improve its quality and upgrade itself to contribute to the development of the green building materials industry in the region.
Green development to facilitate cooperation in building materials
Talking of green building materials, many will feel vague about its reference. In fact, green building materials usually refer to products that pass the evaluation on the indicators of “health influence, environment protection, and safety”, instead of a specific kind of product. For example, mold-proof wallpaper, environmental latex paint, composite floor, and ecological transparent resin board are environmental products that are becoming common in today’s home decoration.
Although China started late in the green building materials area, the industry’s market scale, product concept, and technology & technique in China have improved significantly after 20 years of exploration and development. The market has a bright future and possesses better technology, management, investment, and human resources than ASEAN countries.
As the world’s biggest producer and consumer of building materials, particularly, China has significant advantages in the pricing and quality of building materials. Meanwhile, the energy and raw materials consumption for production is reducing each year, and the product upgrade stays at a fast pace. All of which makes Chinese green building materials welcomed in the ASEAN market.
The 18th CAEXPO, held in 2021, upgraded the Building Materials Section to Green Building Materials Section for the first time. Walking in the section, tourists can feel the trend that building materials are having higher and higher performances and becoming more environmental and intelligent. The section shows China’s technological advantages in construction and building materials while allowing Chinese building materials enterprises to utilize the policies to better promote Chinese building materials export projects and expand the ASEAN market.
ASEAN countries see rapid development in recent years. Currently, they are implementing the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, for which they need to put in huge efforts in infrastructure, quickly stimulating the demand for building materials. Vietnam’s construction market shows strong momentum in recent years, for example, great demands for building materials, which results in Vietnamese building companies actively seeking cooperation opportunities with their foreign partners. According to the statistics released at the beginning of 2022 by the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, Vietnam’s industry and construction are the highest GDP contributors in 2021 and achieve a 4.05% growth compared to 2020.
A midst global climate change, ASEAN countries also tend to consider using green building materials when developing infrastructure, meaning that ASEAN countries’ economic stimulation measures like those in infrastructure will further boost ASEAN’s demands in the building materials market. In the past few years , China and ASEAN have been intentionally supporting the development of the green building materials industry. Moreover, the two sides keep promoting the cooperation in green building materials industry based on each other’s complementary advantages.
Green exhibits to imply future cooperation in building materials
As a solid bridge for China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation, the CAEXPO has established an exchange and cooperation platform for the cooperation in the green building materials industry in the region and facilitated information sharing with various measures, optimizing the downstream supply chains while promoting the green materials’ coming into both markets to build the brands’ public awareness.
The Chinese building materials companies that constantly show up at the CAEXPO have walked at the forefront of regional green building materials industry cooperation. At the 18th CAEXPO, a total of 218 companies, including renowned companies, industrial base, and sector associations such as Guangxi Liuzhou Steel Group, Guangxi Pinglu Group, Guangdong HOMSO Technology Group, China Lesso Group, Guangxi Wuzhou Dragon-Fish Paint, and Shanxi Kanaif Group, showed up at the CAEXPO Green Building Materials Section.
In the section, Guangxi Pinglu Group promoted its lightweight full-aluminum-alloy carriage that only weighs 35% of the traditional carriage which will increase the vehicle’s transport efficiency by over 40%. Moreover, the carriage is also resistant to corrosives, heat, cold, and crash while being recyclable as well.
Nanning enterprises, being the “host of CAEXPO”, contributed lots of quality exhibits for the section as well. Among them, the AlNanNan brought an aluminum-alloy overpass model to the site to make people know about its determination and confidence to practice the green and lightweight traffic. “By now, our high-end special aluminum engineering products are broadly used in multiple areas, such as the full-aluminum covered bridge in Huangyao Ancient Town in Hezhou, Guangxi, and the aluminum pedestrian overpass at the East Gate of the Garden Expo Park Station of Nanning Bus Rapid Transit, etc.,” said the Sales Manager of the company’s Marketing Department of Pedestrian Overpass Business Division.
Guangxi is located at the frontier of China-ASEAN opening cooperation. With advantages brought by the CAEXPO, Guangxi’s building materials enterprises actively boost the green transformation of the products and demonstrate China’s technological advantages in the building materials industry. Enterprises use the policies to expand the ASEAN market and seek more opportunities for win-win cooperation, promoting Chinese building materials export projects to a better and faster extent.
Green duty to seek further development in building materials
At the 75th UNGA held in September 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s goals to reach carbon peak emission before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, showing the strategic will for environmental and low-carbon development. As China’s architectural design industry rapidly develops, energy conservation and emission reduction in the field of building materials are crucial parts of achieving carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. Following this national strategic development goal, the CAEXPO keeps upgrading its exhibitions.
The 19th CAEXPO will continue to set up Green Building Materials Exhibition and hold multi-field and multi-level exchange events that center around the exhibition and aim to exhibit new products and share new technologies of green building materials, building a professional cooperation platform for China, ASEAN countries, and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative to facilitate the efficient and practical cooperation among all sides and ultimately to further promote the development of the industry.
Since the green economy sees development and RCEP enters into force, the space for cooperation in the green building materials industry will be broader. Developed RCEP countries like Japan and Australia started the green building materials R&D early and have tested technologies. For example, the photocatalytic material developed by a Japanese group is an environmental building material that uses the photocatalyst effect to purify the air with only UVs instead of energy or chemicals. The material takes glass and porcelain as the carrier to boost the photocatalyst efficiency, which can be used in the building materials that require purifying function.
The participation of developed countries may boost China’s transformation and upgrade in green building materials technology. However, the economic and trade cooperation in the field between China and ASEAN faces certain challenges. If Chinese building materials enterprises want to seize the current opportunities, they must keep making breakthroughs in R&D and innovation. Meanwhile, policymakers should further complement the qualification process for green building materials so that the consumers can easily purchase quality products and the enterprises can practically promote their developed products in the market.
Considering today’s environmental, social, and industrial requirements, it is convincing that CAEXPO will continue to focus on the latest trend in the China-ASEAN niche industry and the pain points in demand, provide a broader platform for China-ASEAN green building materials development, promote more efficient and practical cooperation between both sides, and facilitate further development in the industry for both China and ASEAN.