The ASEAN Rubber Business Council (ARBC), which comprises the rubber trade associations of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia and accounting for around 76.2% of the world’s total natural rubber production, is very concerned over the current protracted low rubber prices. The prices, which had started their decline since 2013, have been hovering around the present low levels from the second quarter of last year.
Among the reasons for the price decline include slowing demand, in particular, from China, the world’s largest consumer of NR which has been reporting slower growths in recent years. Other factors include the continued economic uncertainties prevailing in the Eurozone and other parts of the world as well as the plunging crude oil prices and their impact on commodities such as rubber.
The persistent low rubber prices have adversely affected the livelihood of the smallholders, in particular, those who are largely dependent on rubber as their source of income. With inflation and a higher cost of living, it has become increasingly difficult for them to earn a decent living. If this situation persists, there is the possibility that many more smallholders will stop tapping and abandon their rubber holdings for other more lucrative activities. This will then disrupt the supply of raw materials required by the rubber product manufacturers for their operations.
This matter was discussed at length at the ARBC meeting in Bali on 29 August 2015. All members of the Council fully support the various initiatives proposed and undertaken by their respective governments to support rubber prices, thus helping to sustain the overall well-being of the smallholders. The Council hopes that the consumers of natural rubber understand the difficulties the smallholders are going through and will render all necessary support to them. It is through such collective effort and collaboration among the producing and consuming countries that the natural rubber industry will continue to thrive and remain to be sustainable for many more years to come.
29 August 2015