Producers of plastics for packaging in the Middle East are targeting overseas growth, according to research firm Applied Market Information.

AMI said that domestic demand growth in the region was still strong and that several large investment projects showed that firms were now "investigating the potential" for international business.

Firms such as 3P, Taghleef Industries and Octal Holdings have invested heavily in the area and polymer capacity is expected to increase by 15 million tonnes in the next three years.

Packaging is the market for some 53% of the plastics produced by the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), mostly for consumer goods, although some is used for industrial end use, AMI said.

AMI said high oil prices had enabled the states to reduce government debt and now had big plans for social and economic development.

"In practical terms for the plastics industry this means governments committed to encouraging development of the plastics processing sector, as well as funding behind many infrastructure and construction projects which drive plastics usage," AMI said.

The GCC is formed of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.