Armenia-China: Joint rubber production makes unlikely match a reality

What was more like a dream than reality only ten years ago has been materialized this year as the joint Armenian-Chinese rubber production was inaugurated in China on Monday.

The launching of the plant took place in the city of Datong of China’s north-eastern Shanxi province and was attended by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

Armenia holds a 40-percent stake in Shanxi-Nairit, while the rest belongs to China. The plant is expected to yield an estimated $10 million to Armenia’s state budget annually.

Nine years ago the Armenian government approved the project with China, one of world leaders in synthetic rubber production. Dozens of plants producing up to 100 types of rubber are located in China.

The joint plant is one of Armenia’s largest partnership projects. Whereas China has spent $100 million on the construction of the plant, Armenia has made a contribution only with intellectual resources and certain equipment of the third production line at the Nairit chemical plant in Yerevan.

The Shanxi-Nairit plant in Datong occupies an area of 100 hectares, which is about five times the territory of the Nairit plant facilities in Armenia. Experimental production at Shanxi-Nairit was launched in 2009. A total of 800 tons of chloroprene rubber, with its quality exceeding that of rubber produced in Armenia, have been produced at the plant in China since then.

“The rubber which we have received as a production sample is one of the best adhesive rubbers, it doesn’t lose or change its color, has a specific size and stability, adhesive properties. Such rubber is good for production of military equipment, shoes, optic materials,” Nairit-2 Deputy Director Albert Sukiasyan tells ArmeniaNow.

Sukisyasn, a 75-year-old candidate of chemical sciences who stood at the sources of the Armenian-Chinese project, says the expected revenues from the joint production in China will exceed those that Nairit can yield here. While Nairit produces 5,000-6,000 tons of rubber a year, the capacity of Shanxi-Nairit is expected to be 30,000 tons.

Nairit-2 is a state-owned company which unlike the main Nairit Plant is only engaged in scientific work. It was the ‘intellectual resource’ of 20 Nairit-2 staff members that was used in the joint Armenian-Chinese project. Ten of them are currently in China.

Nairit-2 Director Gagik Hakobyan hopes that in the future a separate office will open also in Armenia. He says they plan to ask the Armenian government to allow Nairit-2 to engage also in practical production to meet the demand for a number of materials on the local market.

“We have the premises and appropriate resources in order to produce such materials as chlorine, chloroprene, soda, adhesive materials,” Hakobyan tells ArmeniaNow.