"We will shift from the concept of producing and selling goods to being an independent design business that creates new solutions which are not confined to tangible goods."

Takayuki Inagaki

MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO, MITSUI CHEMICALS ASIA PACIFIC (MCAP)

September 29, 2023

Please provide an update on recent developments at Mitsui Chemicals Asia Pacific (MCAP)?

The 2022 fiscal year was challenging for MCAP, especially in light of our ambitious targets. Last year, we saw a downward trend in the semiconductor industry, leading to a decline in demand for our ICT products. Furthermore, as the pandemic subsided, and countries eased their mask-wearing requirements, this impacted on some of our other products. However, the up-and-coming mono-materials trend and growing awareness of plastic waste is a great opportunity for us. Although we missed our financial targets for the fiscal year, we managed to maintain a comparable net profit to fiscal year 2021.

The pandemic showed us that an agile workforce is needed to best mobilize our people in times of need. Through our HR division, we launched a Hybrid Work Arrangement (HWA) for all our companies in Singapore. Under the HWA, eligible employees can opt to work from their residences on some days, thus providing them with greater flexibility.

What are some challenges facing the chemical industry in the region?

Continued economic growth in ASEAN is expected, but the global slowdown due to high inflation and increasing central bank interest rates will continue to pose challenges to many industries, including the chemical industry. However, this also provides an opportunity for us to take stock of our current businesses and to push for more proactive regional collaboration for business development to create new business opportunities in the region. Manpower remains a challenge for the industry, as the work aspirations of young local graduates shifts. Additionally, the government’s Complimentary Assessment Framework (COMPASS) may add to recruitment cost pressures. However, MCAP will continue to reform our work style and business operations to realize both corporate and digital transformation and bring more value to our customers.

Can you comment on the strategy behind the new TAFMER plant on Jurong Island?

TAFMER is a light and flexible material used as a modifier for improving the properties of resins. In July 2023, we broke ground on a new TAFMER plant in Jurong Island, which should complete in fiscal year 2024. This new plant will boost TAFMER production capacity to 345,000 t/y, alongside the existing TAFMER plant which currently produces 225,000 t/y. The new plant will be equipped with Mitsui Chemicals Group’s cutting-edge technology and our proprietary process to produce TAFMER. Heat recovery systems for steam will be installed to reduce energy consumption and reduce GHG emissions.

What is Mitsui Chemicals Group’s approach to R&D and innovation?

Mitsui Chemicals Group places a lot of emphasis on R&D. For example, an innovative glass film, posica kukkiri, developed by Mitsui Fine Chemicals, Inc., an affiliated company in Mitsui Chemicals Group, recently conducted its trial at a restaurant, located in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. The trial saw the film applied to specific windowpanes in the restaurant. Diners seated near these windows will get to experience an enhanced view of the picturesque skyline of Singapore as the film improves color saturation and reduces uncomfortable light glare.

What is your strategy for the coming years?

Part of Mitsui Chemicals Group VISION 2030 Long-Term Business Plan sets out ambitious plans to shift from being a materials provider to becoming a solutions provider, particularly around the production of green energy and supporting the circular economy. We will shift from the concept of producing and selling goods to being an independent design business that creates new solutions which are not confined to tangible goods.

Fiscal year 2023 is about investing in our people and processes. This year, we intend to move to a new office that will best support our work style reform. The new office will be redesigned to aid our people to be even more efficient and effective. We are planning to establish the Production Support Center, which allows our various experts to work more efficiently together to support safe and stable operations in our companies here in Singapore. On top of this, our sales and marketing teams are looking ahead at growth for some products that support mono-material packaging as demand continues to rise gradually within Asia Pacific. We are also likely to see a bounce back in demand for ICROS Tape as demand from the semiconductor industry slowly returns, however, we will take a more conservative expectation in this fiscal year.

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