By Liz White, UT staffMunich, Germany-Freudenberg Chemical Specialities KG, owner of the Chem-Trend release-agent business, has signed an agreement with the Shanghai Qingpu Industrial Park, which is its first step in construction of a Chinese plant for the group's speciality lubricants and mould-release agents. FCS' plant at Qingpu-some 40 km west of Shanghai-is scheduled to start production in 2007, with annual output set to increase rapidly by 2010, the group said. "As one of the world's fastest-expanding economies, China has a special role to play for our own growth plans," said FCS president & ceo, Hanno Wentzler, in a statement on the Chinese expansion. Wentzler added that in the coming years, China is expected to experience higher than average demand for high-quality lubricants and release agents, "because the key industries important to our business are likewise achieving continuous growth." FCS said vigorously growing sectors in China include the automotive, textile, plastics, footwear and tyre industries-where its rubber, tyre and polyurethane release agents are widely used. The group plans to build a shared facility for Klüber Lubrication and Chem-Trend, each part of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities. Both companies already operate expanding sales companies in China, with customers from many important sectors of industry, currently supplied with products from manufacturing units outside China.This plan is FCS' response to rising demand from Chinese customers for better delivery and service support. At the same time, purchasing volumes are rising from important international customers operating in China. Listing fast reaction to customers' requirements as a key factor in FCS' success, Wentzler pointed out that, "A manufacturing operation for products specifically tailored to the needs of the Chinese market is therefore a logical step forward in this concept, and strengthens our long-term market position." Additional benefits from the Chinese investment will be the opportunity to supply further important Chinese manufacturers, as well as medium-term opportunities for exporting to other Asian markets, the company added. In mould-release agents, Chem Trend supplies the Pura range for the polyurethane industry, as well as products used in the rubber and tyre sectors. Freudenberg Group's acquisition of Howell, Michigan headquartered Chem-Trend last year added Kluberchem-brand release agents for elastomer moulding and many Kluberpur-brand release agents for polyurethane moulding to the US group's portfolio. "