How is the plastic industry in the Middle East? How big is the demand?
Plastics of diverse molecular compositions can be tailored to meet specific end-user demands, and are contributing to major challenges across various industry segments, such as construction, environmental protection, packaging, water transmission, electronics, energy generation, transportation and healthcare.
In recent years, the Middle East has been crowned a main converter of plastic materials, and has enjoyed the growth of regional plastics processing markets. As the strive for economic diversity amongst the petrochemical nations of the GCC persists, so will the demand for superior performing polymers. Additionally, the region’s rapid urban development and ongoing infrastructure investments also demand a wide range of plastic processed products.
With large-scale developments, the need for cutting-edge technologies, processes, and products will emerge. As a result, plastic converters are expanding their portfolios, investing in innovative products, and are shifting from conventional commodity polymers to specialised ones. In order to meet this new demand, industrial players are establishing new factories and upgrading older ones. Moreover, numerous collaborations and technology licensing agreements are materialising, which ultimately heighten the region’s production capabilities.
In general, the plastics processing industry follows the growth trend of a given economy. Today, with provincial producers subjected to falling revenues due to weakened economies, and competitor accessibility to cheap raw materials, we are unquestionably at the core of a challenging business environment. However, it is the manufacturers’ responsibility to minimise production costs and improve economies of scale, without compromising quality and performance of their products.
What is your business outlook for the year 2018?
The coming year will remain a challenging one. We see a lot of interesting projects across the horizon, and hope our message of quality reaches the stakeholders. We are confident in the Middle Eastern market, and the volume of the upcoming projects that are slowly, but surely, shifting to higher standards of quality. We are also optimistic that in the near future, the region as a whole will rise and regenerate investment activity in the construction industry. When the time comes, we will be ready to equip and serve the reviving markets with the smartest solutions in the field of plastic piping systems.
On another note, we are looking forward to new developments within API, such as the broadening our production capacity and product range, expansion of our facilities, elevation of overall safety measures, upgrading our sustainable energy, implementing market entry and expansion plans, and obtaining feedback for the newly launched ApiSilence - our newest brand member of acoustically insulating and mineral-filled PP pipes and fittings, for drainage and rainwater applications. As you can see, we have quite a lot to anticipate, and are welcoming 2018 with a positive outlook!
Please elaborate on some of your piping applications.API specialises in the manufacture of polyolefin pipes and fittings for the water construction value chain. Our products range from PP-RCT pipes & fittings for hot and cold water applications, HDPE pipes for water transportation, PP-B pipes & fittings for drainage, and PP-mineral reinforced pipes & fittings for silent drainage applications.
Our piping systems are developed and manufactured within an ISO 9001:2008 quality assurance system. We comply with the most recent and relevant international standards -namely the European Standard EN ISO 15874 and German Standard DIN 8077/8078- for quality control, employee welfare, and environmental protection. Our claim to quality is supported by various certifications that allow for both, local and global recognition and approval. We are also proud holders of the German SKZ, DVGW and KTW certificates.
How forward (or backward) is the Middle East when it comes to plastic piping products?
Due to quick population growth and urbanisation, increased construction activity in the Middle East calls for efficient and sustainable piping. A new high performing pipe class, PP-RCT (Polypropylene-random crystallinity temperature) has been established on the market, and is swiftly replacing metal pipes in buildings. Today, PP-RCT is the new and advanced material of choice for pressure pipe systems, and has been widely adopted by the plumbing and heating industry in numerous countries around the world. Although regional manufacturers are catching up, there has been a slight delay in the adoption of this superior performing thermoplastic piping system in the Middle East.
On a separate note, regional markets in our day can be characterised with sweeping price-orientation, and budget-cuts have become a trend in the construction industry and in many cases at the expense of quality. Nonetheless, a recent turn of events has revealed the Middle East’s new inclination to select products of higher quality standards, which is quite promising.
What is your regional footprint? And which region has the most demand?
As API is manufactured in Lebanon, our homeland is the biggest market for us. However, our brands for pipes and fittings are available and purchased in several countries around the world.
In the Middle East, we have agents present in Syria, Jordan, Algeria, UAE, KSA, etc. Despite geopolitical struggles and circumstances in the region, 20% of API’s sales account for the GCC market. Yet, we believe the Middle East still offers sufficient room for our high-quality products. This is especially the case in high-rise towers and hospitals, where we have demonstrated our performance time after time, in installations that demand high temperature and pressure resistance and greater flow characteristics.
API is always on the lookout for new potential markets to penetrate, and is continuously seeking well-established traders who value quality, and can potentially hold our products, and represent our company outside the boarders of Lebanon.