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    10th China International Acrylonitrile & Acrylic Fiber Forum(2013)
--organized by CCFEI and PCI Acrylonitrile Ltd
        Supported by China National Chemical Fiber Corp., organized by China Chemical & Fiber Economic Information Network (CCFEI) and PCI Acrylonitrile Ltd, the 10th China International Acrylonitrile & Acrylic Fiber Forum was held on 14 Mar, 2013. Greeting its 10th anniversary, the famed event again provided an opportunity for players to focus their eyes on most highlighted issues of the industry in the past year: the roller-coaster played by acrylic fiber prices in 2012, which fell by 30% during end Feb to end Jun, from 21,800 yuan/ton to 15,400 yuan/ton amid lusterless downstream demand, reducing producers to suffer from high costs and slim margin. Against such a backdrop, players gathered here and shared their ideas to find clues about market trends, industry competitiveness, R&D, etc.
Sentiment is improving on support from rigid demand
        China acrylic fiber output had experienced a decrease during 2006-2008, with quite a few domestic capacities washed out, including Daqing’s plant, Qinghuangdao and Zhejiang Jinyong, etc. One major reason is that other fibers, such as polyester fiber, are occupying the market share which used to belong to acrylic fiber. According to Li Xiongyou, Director of Qilu Petrochemical’s Acrylic Fiber Plant, the price gap between acrylic and polyester fibers had been widening ever since 2011. As the result, acrylic fiber was almost expelled from the carpet market by the year of 2008. Since 2009, such a trend got held, with both capacity and consumption of acrylic fiber getting stable. During 2009-2011, global consumption volume of acrylic fiber had been pegged at above 1,900kt, while apparent consumption volume in China ranged between 850-900kt.
        With regard to market perspective, speakers contributed encouraging speeches. According to Zheng Junlin, Secretary General of China Chemical Fiber Association, China economy had bottomed out in Q3 2012, and was now in recovery. His opinion was agreed by Li Shigang from China National Development and Reform Commission, who added that there was a good chance for end-user demand to reach a historical high. On the other hand, sun Min, Senior Analyst of China Chemical & Fiber Economic Information Network, argued that fundamental was unlikely to see substantial change in acrylic market. He also forecasted that with domestic polypropylene capacity increasing, acrylic fiber producers would be less vulnerable to feedstock cost changes, and enjoy more margin. Nevertheless, Liu Kelin from Sales Center of Jilin Petrochemical pointed out that oversupply would remain as a main obstacle for the industry, citing that the less satisfactory export of end-user products was expected to have impact acrylonitrile.
Promising future of high-value-added products
       There are three main characters for China acrylic fiber industry: I. Comparatively small market share; II. High feedstock costs (huge supply-gap of acrylonitrile); III. State-owned enterprises take a large part in the industry, indicating less flexible business operation. Focusing on the three characters, Zheng Junlin proposed that to achieve industry upgrade, enterprises should enhance R&D in advanced processes and new products, while explore new application fields.

  Li Xiongyou also contributed his opinion in R&D of new products, emphasizing the importance of differentiated and functional fibers for the competitiveness of the industry. Mr. Li pointed out that currently in the incustry, high-value-added products accounted for less than 2% of total. The reason, according to Zheng Junlin, lies in insufficient attention paid to acrylic industry, which involves a relatively small capacity, and lack of attention resulted in weak R&D. He called for domestic enterprises to take initiative in R&D, in which Jilin JiMont Acrylic Fiber had taken a lead. Sun Xiaojun, General Manager of Jilin JiMont Acrylic Fiber introduced that while differentiated acrylic fiber still accounted for almost 50% of total acrylic fiber imported, Jilin JiMont was concentrating efforts in R&D of differentiated products. Eklovya Bajaj, acrylic fiber sales head China of Aditya Birla Group, predicted that there would be a promising future for functional fiber in China, among which the anti-pilling fiber would play an important role.

        Besides new products, another important factor for enterprises to take into consideration is products’ potential in application. At present, the proportion of acrylic fiber used for industrial purpose is 3% in China, compared with the 13% in the world, indicating that there is a large space for acrylic fiber to explore in industrial use. Meanwhile, the state government’s policy of expanding domestic demand indicates that end-user demand will grow.
Gear products to meet end-users’ demand
        In recent years, some acrylic fiber suppliers did invest a lot in R&D, but failed to achieve the expected rewards. Referring to this confusing situation, Li Xiongyou believed the problem mainly lied in that downstream yarn producers failed to obtain a good understanding about end-users’ demand. Addressing to such a problem, Zheng Junlin gave his advice that fiber suppliers may cooperate with downstream mills and help them to develop specialized varieties, thus facilitate sales and reduce potential risks of R&D.
        Ma Zhengsheng, Senior Engineer of Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical’s Acrylic Fiber Dept., also suggested that R&D should serve the targeted end-users’ demand, and be supported by a sophisticated after-sales service team.

        Mr. Bajaj of Aditya Birla Group talked to media that their group had developed many acrylic fiber products of different functions geared to varied applications. In the final stage of R&D of certain product, they contact customers and learn from their opinions before put the product into mass production. There are also examples of the group develop products with downstream users participated in, such as anti-bacteria products joined by Sanitized.
        While focusing on market demand, Li Xiongyou suggested that enterprises could also try to explore demand. Taking Lycra’s case as example, Mr. Li encouraged suppliers to forge into unions with upstream and downstream players, to integrate fiber, fabric, apparel and distribution sectors, and thus guide the consumption trend and enable acrylic fiber to play a more active role.
Source: China Textile News
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