Rubber is poised to emerge as a growth driver for economic relations between India and the Philippines, which have remained muted over the years.
A 35-member delegation from Philippines including government officials, rubber and products manufacturers visited India and held wide ranging talks with Rubber Board, Rubber Research Institute of India and All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA).
According to Niraj Thakkar, President, AIRIA, the Philippines has identified India as a key partner for reinvigorating its rubber sector as India has strengths across the entire rubber spectrum including rubber farming, processing and manufacturing which are unmatched by any other country. Besides discussions with the Rubber Board on developing high-yielding clones of rubber trees, the delegation visited rubber manufacturing units and machinery manufacturers.
In the comity of rubber producing nations, he said the Philippines has so far remained a fringe player. In the nine-member Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, Philippines was eighth in rubber production last year with a production of 1,16,400 tonnes. The Philippines has now sharpened its focus on expanding rubber production. The area under rubber has gone up from 1,78,600 hectares in 2012 to an estimated 2,11,600 hectares now.
The visit to India focused on increasing competitiveness in production, processing and manufacturing of rubber so as to increase domestic and export sales, attract investments in the rubber sector and create jobs, he said. Yokohama Tire Philippines is a major consumer of rubber but sources only 5 per cent of its rubber requirement from domestic sources. Like many other South-East Asian rubber producers, the Philippines wishes to move up the value chain by strengthening domestic rubber manufacturing besides improving quality of rubber produced, he said.
– The Hindu