Wunchai Uasuwonkul, managing director of Siam Plate Glass Industry Ltd, said yesterday that since China opened its markets a few years ago and prepared to host major global events, there had been a significant increase in demand for sheet glass used in construction.He said manufacturers globally had increased their production capacity to serve the greater demand in the Chinese market.There has also been an increase in manufacturing inside China.
Currently there are 120 sheet glass companies in China, but Wunchai estimates there will be as many as 200 by 2008.
He said Chinese manufacturers would also face a shrinking market and may export more sheet glass in the future, decreasing prices in the world market.
Chinese sheet glass is currently 30 per cent cheaper than Thai glass.
Wunchai said Thailands total market was worth Bt10 billion per year.
Three companies account for all the countrys production: Thai Asahi with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes, Guardian with 40,000 tonnes, and Siam Plate Glass with 10,000 tonnes.
He said that in the Kingdom, 60 per cent of sheet glass is used by the property/construction industry and 25 per cent by the automotive industry.
Siam Plate Glass produces two kinds of sheet glass: transparent and glass with graphics printed on it. It exports 80 per cent of its graphic sheet glass and sells 100 per cent of the transparent sheet glass in the domestic market. Wunchai said the glass industry in Thailand had expanded year on year due to government programmes encouraging people to purchase property.
He said prices had increased by 5 to 10 per cent in line with oil prices. The price of oil accounts for 30 per cent of his companys total expenses. He also said the domestic sheet-glass industry was estimated to grow 10 per cent this year and 15 per cent in 2005.