Vietnam to build massive petchem complex

The chemicals industry is very job-intensive (in particular it has a very high employment multiplier compared to other industries), so it is no surprise that Vietnam is the latest country to announce a massive new petrochemical complex.

The Middle East (particularly Saudi Arabia) has been investing heavily in petrochemicals even in the economic downturn, because for them the economics are fantastic (much of the ethane, propane, and butane used as feedstock are essentially unused wastes of oil production) and job creation is high on the agenda. Vietnam doesn't have the same feedstock advantage, so clearly they find the job creation and import substitution development model alone compelling. And compelling enough to outweigh economic "rationality", in a sector which is facing overcapacity as GDP-linked global demand struggles to recover from its recession-driven fall. All of which is not good news for Western corporate petchem players (who aren't doing that well in the first place).

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