Interview with Dr. Scheuring: "It has been a privilege to witness the development in China"

Interview with Dr. Thomas Scheuring, CEO of DECHEMA Ausstellungs-GmbH 

Thinking about AchemAsia 2016, what is the prevailing sentiment – joy, worry, mixed feelings?


As with every AchemAsia before, we are looking forward to AchemAsia 2016. This is my tenth AchemAsia, and I have always been excited about the next one to come.

Looking at China’s current economic situation, we receive less than positive news every day. What are the implications for AchemAsia?


The euphoria about China is indeed somewhat subdued at the moment – a situation we have experienced every now and then in the past, by the way. The reasons are well known. We do not see the two digit growth rates at the moment that we have got accustomed to over the past decade. On the other hand, these growth rates have resulted in a much higher economic base line than what we saw years or decades ago. Meaning that even with a lower percentage, economic growth in absolute numbers is still significant.

AchemAsia 2016 is the tenth edition. If someone had participated in the first AchemAsia in 1989 and came back in 2016 – would they even recognize the event?


They would probably be flabbergasted. The tremendous development that China has undergone is visible in AchemAsia: We have so many Chinese exhibitors offering high tech equipment and state-of-the-art equipment technology. The exhibits are impressive, the stands are very attractive - and not least the current location offers the setting and all the amenities you expect from a modern exhibition center.

What has been the most surprising development?


To me personally, the biggest surprise was how fast China has accomplished this transformation that could at best be imagined at the time. If you consider that China was not the only country undergoing major changes at the time and compare the outcome e.g. with the former Sovjet Union, the Chinese development really commands one’s respect.

There has been a continually growing Chinese participation over the past years – AchemAsia has become „more Chinese“. What does AchemAsia mean to Chinese exhibitors?


The message to the Chinese exhibitors is: AchemAsia is THE place where you can initiate and intensify your international network. It’s both a display and a window to the world – and that’s invaluable especially in a time of economic transformation.

Let’s have a look at the congress. You changed the concept for AchemAsia 2013, having several symposia organized together with Chinese partners instead of one integrated congress. Has this proved successful?


Yes, definitely. The conditions have changed – we are not „technology missionaries“any more, but we need a platform where Chinese and Western partners can meet and discuss. With the symposia, our Chinese partners can put the spotlight on topics relevant to their communities. At AchemAsia 2016, we will have four symposia – the CIESC organizes events on Process Intensification and Smog Prevention, DECHEMA contributes sessions on Industry 4.0 and Single Use Techologies.

Looking ahead – what are your expectations for AchemAsia 2019?


Predictions are difficult. But I notice today a certain lack of recognition that a country that has had two digit growth rates for decades will not be able to continue this percentage increase on a much larger economic basis. I expect that this will be common sense in three years time and that China’s economy will still be growing at a solid pace – meaning that Western industries will have realized by then that the “new normal” is indeed the “normal” to be expected – and by all means still a very attractive business environment.

What is your vision – or your wish? – for AchemAsia 20 years from now?


Our goal was to crack the mark of 1,000 exhibitors on the long run. I think chances are high that this will happen over the next 20 years. The share of domestic exhibitors will probably level off at about 50 % - similar to what we see at ACHEMA. Personally I feel that it has been a privilege to witness the development in China as a whole and of our industry in particular over the last 25 years and even have a – if only small – role in it, and I am looking forward to see what the coming decades will bring.

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