By David Reed, UT EditorSingapore-There was a distinctly more 'Asian' feel to the UTECH Asia 2005 event, which opened here Tuesday 12 April, perhaps a consequence of the fact that the largest stand in the exhibition was from Yantai Wanhua Polyurethane Co. Ltd, the leading manufacturer of MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) in the People's Republic of China. A strong group stand from that country, with more than half a dozen companies involved, also underscored where its future priorities lie: exports throughout the Asian region and, undoubtedly, beyond.But, apart from Shell Chemicals, the major international raw material makers were noticeable by their absence - at least as official exhibitors. Nevertheless, the 70-strong range of machinery makers and ancillary chemicals suppliers gave a solid basis for the exhibition, which saw more than 1200 people registering during the first day. The wide-ranging series of seminars running in parallel with the first two days of the exhibition was also a factor in some of the enthusiasm about the event, on its return to Singapore after a six-year gap.The changed economic situation across the Asia-Pacific region was one strong influence on the atmosphere around the show: the last UTECH Asia in Singapore, back in 1999, was just after the Asian financial crisis of 1998, whereas now the regional economies have all been showing more solid growth in the years since then. Although the total attendance is expected to be behind the most recent UTECH Asia event, held in 2002 in conjunction with the PU China 2002 meeting in Shenzhen, China, the healthy first-day turnout showed that the region outside China is also important for the polyurethanes business.The Singapore also attracted visitors from a wider range of countries than the Chinese event, with companies from the Middle East and the Philippines marking the western and eastern limits, while Japan and Korea down to Australia marked the northern and southern limits.Seminar success story?Attendance at the free company-sponsored product seminars was also good, in general. Several had 60 or 70 delegates, while others attracted more modest numbers, depending on a variety of factors, from timing of the event through to prior publicity by the sponsoring companies.The seminars sponsored by ancillary chemical suppliers attracted the biggest audiences, while some of the machinery seminars were poorly attended, perhaps reflecting the buying priorities in the region. All told, though, most of the sponsoring companies reported their satisfaction with the concept, especially since many companies in the region are still on a steep learning curve in terms of getting the best performance from their machines and materials."