ARNHEM, The Netherlands - Akzo Nobel announced plans to build a new non-stick coatings production facility in southern China, adjacent to a wood-coatings plant that began operation last year in Dongguan City.

The plant will primarily manufacture products for the growing cookware industry in China, but will also supply products for specialized industrial applications, the company said. The start-up of production is expected in April 2003.

Rudy van der Meer, member of the Akzo Nobel Board of Management responsible for Coatings, said the new plant reflects the company's plan to expand its global position in non-stick coatings. China, he said, represents a key market for the sector. "This move will put us in an even better position to serve the fast-expanding Chinese market and to be closer to our customers, many of whom have outsourced production there in recent years," he said.

Akzo Nobel Coatings currently operates six production sites in China and employs 1,100 people in its China operations. Sales have tripled in recent years, to 200 million euros annually, the company said.