With China’s chemical industry now a major economic force in the Asian giant, it is no surprise that it is the biggest exporter of chemicals in the region.
However, there is one company that has seen an exponential increase in exports in recent years, and that is Sigma Chemical Industries Ltd.
The company is the world’s largest chemical company by market value, having become a household name in China when it began to produce chemicals in 2002.
The Chinese state owns 99.9% of the company, which was founded by Dr Wang Yipeng in 1972, and is currently in the process of buying up stakes in other major companies, including Alcoa, Dow Chemical and DuPont.
Sigma is the third-largest chemical company in the United States by market capitalisation, with a market capitalization of $16.4 billion, according to Bloomberg.
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“The China market is a market where you see companies who are doing well,” said Michael J. Schur, senior research analyst at Guggenheim Securities.
“There are some very big, established companies that have a lot of potential and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make money.”
But even if China’s economy is growing fast, it’s not enough to offset the growing impact of China’s pollution.
As the world becomes more reliant on chemicals for everything from building materials to cars, it can be hard to get those chemicals into the hands of consumers.
And with more countries adopting COVID-19-preventable vaccines, it would make a lot more sense for those companies to invest in improving the efficiency of their supply chains.
“If you’re making a chemical, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re using a better quality, more efficient product, and you’re also doing things to get rid of those toxic chemicals that can cause illness or damage,” said Schur.
In 2016, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified benzene as a class B carcinogen, with an estimated cancer risk of 1 in 20 people.
So it is unsurprising that the company that makes benzene has also been heavily investing in chemicals to combat the disease.
“They’ve invested in new technologies and a lot has been invested in chemical manufacturing in China,” said Kip Thomsen, senior scientist at the International Centre for Integrated Drug Delivery and Research.
“There’s been a lot investment in the Chinese market and in this country in particular.”
Sigma’s biggest investments in China have been in its own chemical manufacturing plants in the southern city of Guangzhou.
This is the first Chinese chemical plant to be built in the US since 1997, and it is expected to create about 2,000 jobs.
Sigma also bought the former Wuhan chemical plant and the former Chengdu Chemical Company, which were both shut down by the government of President Xi Jinping in 2010.
The Chinese government has also invested heavily in the development of a chemical production facility in China’s Tianjin province, which is currently under construction.
The company plans to start producing benzene in 2020.
The project is expected create more than 1,500 jobs.
Other chemicals in China are also benefiting from China’s economic boom.
China has the second-largest industrial base in the OECD, after the United Kingdom.
This includes chemical products that are often made in the country, like chemicals for building materials.
According to the US Chemical Industry Association, China is now the fourth-largest exporter to the United United States, behind the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
“I think it’s really the largest market for these chemicals and the largest exporter globally,” said Dr Zhenhong Huang, senior analyst at China Institute of Chemical Industry, a research institute based in Shenzhen.
“It’s also a big consumer market, so there are a lot people who are buying chemicals in this market.”
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The Economist has previously written about the growing influence of China on the global economy.
Read more from The Economist here