With the expansion of the market in China the movement of Japanese industrial gas related producers and distributors into China has really been much in evidence up to now – reports the Gas Review.

Last year, however, Japanese gas distributors – mainly those handling welding materials – moved aggressively into such Southeast Asian countries as Vietnam, Indonesia, and India.

A major factor pushing this movement along was the economic growth of the nations of Southeast Asia. Another reason was that there were numerous negative factors in China such as rising personnel costs, laws regarding the establishment of local companies, the differences in business practices, and the slowing down of the economy. Despite this, companies are still moving into China.

Last year gas welding materials distributors, which opened up a business location in Southeast Asia, totaled 11 locations – and movement on this scale is rare.

Watari and Tomoe positioned as producers

Earlt in November last year Watari, a major gas distributor in Kanagawa Prefecture, set up its first wholly overseas company in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. The investment total cost came to ¥41m, making this a full blown move overseas for the company, which called itself ‘Watari Vietnam’.

Furthermore, in February this year, it set up a joint venture with Gastech & Machinery, a producer of storage tanks for cryogenic industrial gas, to create ‘Gastech Watari Machinery’. This company will produce separate gas storage tanks and piping for separated gas. It will be producing gas related equipment on the premises of the Gastech & Machinery headquarters.

Suzuki Shokan sets up Thailand company

While all of the distributors are establishing a presence one after another in Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as in China, it was Suzuki Shokan which went on to set up a local company in Thailand. In the middle of last September it established ‘Suzusho (Thailand)’, capitalised as about ¥5.6m.

One reason for creating this new company is the economic growth in Asia. Another is the track record Suzuki Shokan has achieved through many years of marketing chemical products such as solvents, detergents, industrial chemical products, aerosol and chemical equipment. The goal of the company is to have a set up able to meet the local requirements even more speedily.

Saisan, based in China, is to expand its LPG operations overseas in Thailand. AWI Group Daio has also made its first entry into China.