Rubber-based industries continue to buy natural rubber from foreign markets, though the growth in imports moderated in October.
In October, natural rubber imports rose 81 per cent to 33,486 tonnes, against 18,466 tones a year earlier. At 45,581 tonnes, imports had risen 208 per cent in September. For the April-October period, imports stood at 214,448 tonnes, against 131,107 tonnes in the year-ago period, a rise of 64 per cent. In 2012-13, imports of natural rubber stood at 217,364 tonnes; for this financial year, imports are likely to exceed 300,000 tonnes.
Currently, standard Malaysian rubber is Rs 12/kg cheaper than the domestic RSS-4 grade. In August and September, the difference was Rs 30-35/kg. Now, prices of the RSS-4 grade stand at Rs 156/kg, against Rs 183/kg in September and Rs 190/kg in August. As a result, the domestic market had started attracting rubber-based industries and the slowing growth in imports was an indication of this, said N Radhakrishnan, former president, Cochin Rubber Merchants Association.
The continuing imports have led to a steep fall in prices in the local market, affecting a million-odd growers of the commodity across Kerala.
Production woes continue
In October, production fell to 83,000 tonnes from 89,500 tonnes in the corresponding period last year, a fall of 7.3 per cent. Production has seen declines through this financial year, except in April and May, according to data provided by the Rubber Board. For the April-October period, production fell 12.2 per cent to 426,000 tonnes, against 485,200 tonnes in the year-ago period.
Rubber Board Chairman Sheela Thomas said this financial year, production would fall 9.4 per cent to 870,000 tonnes, compared with 960,000 tonnes last financial year, owing to heavy rains. However, this is likely to be offset next financial year, as tapping area is likely to rise to 518,000 hectares in 2013-14 from 504,000 hectares in 2012-13.
Consumption of natural rubber fell to 80,500 tonnes in October from 83,485 tonnes a year earlier, according to Rubber Board data. For the April-October period, consumption fell three per cent to 569,515 tonnes. According to latest data, overall stocks of natural rubber in the country stand at 240,000 tonnes, against 245,000 tonnes in October 2012.
Source: Business Standard