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That’s a record number of exhibitors and space, according to Ada Leung, general manager at Chinaplas organizer Adsale, who noted that the total exhibit space was up 9% compared to last Chinaplas held in Guangzhou in 2013, with the exhibitor number up more than 10%.
The annual event, which currently rotates between Shanghai and Guangzhou and marks its 30th edition in 2016, is increasingly of a scale to draw comparisons to the triennial K Fair in Düsseldorf in terms of size. In fact, judging by total exhibitors, Chinaplas 2015 actually eclipses K 2013: 3282 to 3215; although K still tops Chinaplas in terms of space, with K2013 having covered 270,000 m2.
Despite its gains on the K, Adsale Chairman Stanley Chu remained deferential to Düsseldorf at the Chinaplas 2015 Media Day. “To be the top show, you have to be tops in both quantity and quality,” Chu said. “I think it is the quality where we're still lagging behind with the German industry. In terms of quantity, I'd say we're close.”
Chu also spoke frankly about the evolution underway in the Chinese economy, particularly changes in wages and the value of the currency. “The increasing appreciation of renminbi and wage inflation has put pressure on economy,” Chu said. “China is no longer a low-cost production site.”
To help the local industry address this and to reflect its burgeoning interest in the area, Chinaplas 2015 has a greater emphasis on automation, including a first-ever Robot Parade section of the show dedicated to robotics.
Other “key challenges” for Chinese plastics manufacturers identified by Chu included: product quality, high labor cost, recruitment difficulties, reduction of orders, fast product generation, over capacity, and product design.
A bright spot, however, has been the country’s gains as an exporter of plastics machinery. Chu said that right now China, which in terms of volume is the world’s largest maker of plastics machinery, only exports around 18% of its equipment overseas, compared to an established machinery maker like Germany, which exports over 70% of its equipment.
“There is still big potential to be tapped,” Chu said, noting that the top market for Chinese machines at this point is Vietnam, with the U.S. at No. 2. “The demand by the U.S. reflects the big improvements in the quality of the Chinese made machines,” Chu said, adding that Chinese plastics machinery is often only 30% to 40% the cost of equipment from countries like Germany, Japan or Italy.
“All in all, we are still very positive about our future,” Chu said. “China is now the second largest economy in the world, and it is still growing about 7% each year.”