"As a leading materials science company, we are prepared to respond quickly when the situation improves. With China finally reopening after COVID, there is a silver lining for spillover growth."

Paul Fong

MANAGING DIRECTOR, DOW MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE

April 05, 2023

Could you briefly introduce Dow’s operations in Malaysia?

Dow Malaysia is a sales office and is an important base to reach to our strategic customers in the packaging, infrastructure, mobility, and consumer markets.

How is Dow Malaysia mitigating against global headwinds like inflation and slower demand?

Inflation affects the entire industry. We have a good cash position and our financial health makes us more resilient against market threats while staying flexible and open to new opportunities. We advocate spending wisely and making the right investments to reap optimum returns. In the current environment, we are selective with the markets we participate in.

The industry must stay vigilant against the potential challenges arising from the Ukraine conflict and the energy crisis. The world is closely interconnected with the global supply chain, global energy crisis, and global inflation impacting one another. Every country in the world is grappling with inflation, which deters consumer spending.

As a leading materials science company, we are prepared to respond quickly when the situation improves. With China finally reopening after COVID, there is a silver lining for spillover growth.

How does Malaysia fare as a destination for chemical players?

Malaysia brings many opportunities for investors in the chemical space, starting with a pro-business environment. Even though the government has changed several times in the last couple of years, every new government has been supportive of business. Malaysia also has great infrastructure for various sub-sectors, including electronics in Penang or petrochemicals in Johor. The country’s multiracial society grants it a diverse, multilingual talent pool, nurtured by a good education system up to university level. We also see a competitive labor market driving talent development, as well as a reliable legal system which enhances business confidence.

At the same time, competition from neighboring countries is a constant challenge. Frequent changes in government have led to periods of instability and policy inconsistency. With each government, we see a reset which naturally slows down policy implementation. However, the investment community views the current unity government positively, and we hope to see more stability from here on.

What is your view on the role of collaborations in the chemical sector when it comes to decarbonization?

Real change requires collaborations across the value chain. Contributions to decarbonization can come in various forms – scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3. If the entire value chain is focused on decarbonization, they will find ways and means to work it within their organization, with their customers, suppliers and other business partners.

An illustrative example of collaboration is – together with a leading environmental NGO EcoKnights and one of the country’s largest textile recyclers, LifeLine Clothing – we completed a playground made from recycled shoe materials at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Tadom school in October 2022.

Dow Malaysia is actively promoting diversity and inclusion. Can you tell us more about your initiatives?

We have been working with the broader community to raise awareness on this matter. Together with the National autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM), we established the National Autism Center (NARC) at UiTM Shah Alam, which is available for everyone in the autism community. NASOM as well as other NGOs (such as HOPE Worldwide) have also been our partners in setting up several urban farms to encourage self-sustenance among underprivileged families. We are guided by the principle that, instead of giving a family a fish, it is better to teach them how to fish, so that they are empowered to sustain themselves in the long term without depending on handouts from others. This initiative marries inclusion with sustainability, because the community learns to grow their own vegetables and source their own fish in a climate-friendly way, leading up to less CO2 emissions.

Do you have a final message?

Long-term, my personal as well as Dow’s aspiration is not to lose sight of decarbonization. Dow announced an ambitious plan to be carbon neutral by 2050. We want to make sure that, as we grow as a business, we contribute to sustainability. In the short-term, we are focused on cashflow and profitability so that we are ready to capture growth when the market turns. I am a strong believer that the market will rebound strongly once inflationary pressures moderate and that the Malaysian chemical sector is poised to support the country’s GDP growth.

INTERVIEWS MORE INTERVIEWS

"NORCAT is the only innovation centre in the world that has an operating mine designed to enable start-ups, SMEs, and international companies to develop, test and demonstrate emerging technologies."
"The energy transition can only be funded by big oil, as they are the only players who can balance the low returns of renewables projects with their high earning fossil fuel projects."
"Our commitment to being OEM and technology agnostic sets us apart, enabling collaboration with diverse technologies."
"Wyoming is strategically positioned to address the geopolitical challenges affecting critical minerals, particularly in the uranium sector."

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Mexico Chemicals 2024

In August 2023, Mexican exports to the US surpassed China for the first time. As companies prioritize securing supply their chains after years of logistics challenges, Mexico has begun to see major benefits. With a spate of new infrastructure projects such as the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec coming online in 2023, the country is actively opening itself to investment. The chemical industry, in particular, is positioned for nearshoring-driven growth.

MORE PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED

MACIG

"We plan to double our copper production by the end of the decade. There remains significant upside potential in the gold industry, and the copper operations are strategic and additive to that."

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER