Faced with challenges from the shrinking domestic market, a growing number of Chinese small and medium-sized chemical companies are seeking market opportunities and technological cooperation overseas.
Chinese chemical company booths were scattered along the bustling halls at the K 2016 fair, a triennial industry extravaganza known as the world's largest plastics and rubber trade fair, which ran for eight days until October 26 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
A total of 3,285 exhibitors showcased their goods and services at the fair. Traditionally, European companies dominate the event, but since K 2013, Asian companies from China, India, and South Korea have had a strong presence.?
There were about 270 exhibitors from the Chinese mainland and about 110 from Taiwan, according to Plastics News Europe.??
Among the Chinese companies that were catching up with their continental rivals and exploring the European market was China XD, a materials manufacturer that has its global headquarters in New York and manages more than 10 independent subsidiaries in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Heilongjiang and Sichuan provinces in China.
"K 2016 is one of the most important industry events. [Through it] we can show our polymer composite materials solutions and innovations," said Ma Qingwei, the managing director and chief operation officer of China XD Plastics Company Limited at the company's booth.
The company's offerings range from automotive plastics and bio- and petroleum-based materials to 3D-printed materials.
Some of the materials are made from agricultural straw - the company's latest innovation in turning agricultural waste into useful industrial materials.
"By attending the fair, we hope to upgrade our technology and innovation through establishing more international cooperation," said Ma. "We have come to strategic agreements with some European scientific research institutions. Integrating global talent with our Chinese technologies has been our long-standing strategy to push forward the company's innovation, research and development."
For other companies such as Guangdong-based Dongguan Goldwin Precision Moulds Co, LTD a second-time participant in the K fair, the trade event provides a platform to meet and exchange ideas with potential clients in Europe.
Annie Lee, the sales manager of the company, said international showcasing events like K offer participants access that is not always available in their home countries.
"While some Chinese clients can find our products and services via the Internet, the e-commerce method is inapplicable to European clients," Lee explained.
Lee said her overseas clients are mainly automotive and toy manufacturers. She said Chinese companies have an advantage in price over local European companies even though the service of European companies may be better.
Apart from the European market, K also opens up opportunities in North America, South Asia, and Africa to visitors from all corners of the globe. An estimated 200,000 people from around the world visited the fair.
The key to seeking new markets is not always price competition. Innovation and new technology are also very important to the competitiveness of Chinese companies.
It was the first time that China's National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ)-listed company Taizhou G-Good Adhesives Co, LTD brought their products to the fair.
Located in East China's Zhejiang Province, the company used to be an original equipment manufacturer but has since upgraded to a product-oriented enterprise with advanced research and development capabilities.
The company's core innovation is a type of industrial adhesive for pipes, according to Cheng Di, a sales assistant of the company.
"The technology developed by our team, led by an expert from the US, will considerably lower cost while increasing product quality," Cheng said. "We hope to present the quality of Chinese manufacturing to the world."