Thailand’s thriving plastics industry plays a major role in the nation’s many export sectors, and consists of a wide array of producers and innovators.

It’s been nearly two decades since the full integration of petrochemical production businesses here – which marked a first for Southeast Asia – and today Thailand is self-sufficient in the sourcing of many of the raw materials needed for environmentally-friendly products and processing.

There are 5,000 plastics facilities in Thailand, comprised of converters and fabricators, mould and machine manufacturers, compounders, and petrochemical producers, with 60% of total output coming from small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employing less than 30 workers.

With regard to the remaining 40%, large-sized companies with global-scale production systems and significant foreign investment handle the consistent demand from the domestic market, as well as from regional overseas markets. Explosive economic growth in India and China – plus considerable development in ASEAN countries – continues to lift Thailand’s prominent plastics-manufacturing base.

The outlook for ongoing advances is optimistic as the ASEAN Economic Community’s free-trade pact (AEC) is set to commence in 2015, with Thailand poised to reap the rewards of advantages in both production and supply over economies like Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Beyond that, plastics manufacturers will attempt to further penetrate the global market, where demand is expected to accelerate and where the greatest growth is anticipated in the developing Asian nations.

The adoption of sophisticated, cutting-edge technologies for use in key export industries like electronics, automobile manufacturing, and food production has been necessary to keep up with the growth and demand in those sectors. Plastics, like many other industries, are supported by government funding for technical education and infrastructure upgrades, and is an excellent area for entrepreneurs to invest, particularly in the colossal plastic-packaging sector.

Thailand’s plastics industry provides an excellent environment for intellectual property innovations and technological advancements, and scores of trade fairs come to Thailand each year. For example, ProPak Asia, TIPREX (a Thai-German partnership), and Chemspec Asia all took advantage of Thailand’s fun, flexible, and accessible business event options, as did InterPlas, a plastics & rubber technology show that witnessed 48,000 attendees over four days.