On June 9, 2021, Thai petrochemical company Indorama Ventures announced the development of its new technology center in The Woodlands, Texas. A Forbes Asia Top 50 Company that spans six continents, Indorama Ventures is one of the largest chemical producers in the world, with three main divisions: feedstock, polyester, and fibers. The new technology center will serve as the company’s research and development facility for its feedstock operations, developing a wide variety of end-use products to be used in the agricultural, industrial, and energy sectors, as well as for home use.
In addition to product innovation, the new Woodlands facility will also be used as a hub to further Indorama’s sustainability objectives, which include waste, water, and greenhouse gas management, as well as the integration of renewable energy into the petrochemical production process. Already the world’s largest maker of fully recyclable plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, Indorama has stated that the technology center will participate within a network of other R&D facilities in Australia, India, and China to coordinate solutions to the environmental hazards often associated with the petrochemical industry.
Regarding the importance of clean tech research, COO and President of Indorama’s Integrated Oxides and Derivatives division Alastair Port stated that his company “is committed to strengthening our innovation platforms and meeting our customers’ market needs. Our new facility will be a significant milestone on our ‘future ready’ roadmap and serve as a center of excellence for the development of new niche and sustainability product lines. The Woodlands landscape creates a perfect setting for this investment.”
Expanding foreign direct investment with Thailand is just one of the many ways the United States has sought to broaden its relationship with Southeast Asia. Strengthening these ties is more important as greater US cooperation with Thailand and other ASEAN states will be essential in addressing global challenges such as climate change, migration, natural disasters, and sustainable development. Enhancing trade relations is also to the benefit of both countries, as the United States is Thailand’s third largest trading partner, with collective trade revenue between the two countries reaching $46.7 billion in 2019. International trade has historically been a driver of both innovation and interdependence, and developments such as Indorama Venture’s Texas research facility will serve as hubs not only for stronger commercial ties, but stronger relations with Southeast Asia writ large.
Clayton Russo is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. He is a graduate student at the Missouri State University Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, with a concentration in Asia and Countering WMD.