Sri Lanka: Aim to end bulk rubber exports by creating value addition industries locally

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The contribution of the rubber industry to the national would be enhanced by establishing rubber-related industries throughout the country, Company Estate Reforms, Tea and Rubber Estates Related Crops Cultivation and Factories Modernization and Tea and Rubber Export Promotion State Minister Kanaka Herath said recently.

The Minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the National Entrepreneurship Programme for the Establishment of New Rubber Related Industries. The National Programme commenced from the Kegalle District and it is planned to establish 100 new Rubber-Related Industries in the Kegalle District alone.

This programme is jointly implemented by the Industrial Board (IDB) in collaboration with the Rubber Development Department and the Rubber Secretariat under the supervision of the State Ministry of Plantations. It is proposed to implement such programmes especially in the rubber growing districts, which will provide the entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the rubber-related manufacturing sector with the knowledge, attitude, aspects, know-how and all aspects, including financing as well.

Besides, those budding entrepreneurs will be assisted to overcome the burning issue of fulfilling the initial capital jointly by the State Ministry and banks.

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Under this move the State Ministry provides those new entrepreneurs with a non-refundable financial assistance to meet the start-up costs of the . In addition, the IDB provides them with the necessary technical knowledge.

Although our country is a high quality rubber producer in the world, the output is often exported as a raw material without adding value. However, the State Minister pointed out that more foreign exchange could be earned by setting up local rubber-related industries so as to add value to the local rubber production and turning it into a finished product instead of exporting it as a raw material.

The Minister said that on an average, about 600 rubber parts were used in a car and the primary goal was to manufacture at least a few of them in the country as a starting point. Apart from the automotive industry, there was already a very good for rubber-related products in many fields including , medical, naval, defence, and many more. He noted that local manufacturers could have vast opportunity to reap greater benefits from entering the export market.

Parallel to the programme, a study would be carried out on rubber products imported into the country and some of them will be manufactured locally. Plans were afoot to manufacture other rubber products in the country by gradually uplifting the rubber related industries and in the final stage of this process it is planned to manufacture all the imported rubber related products locally, State Minister Herath said.

“We look forward to enlisting of small and medium scale local industrialists in the process,” he said.

State Minister Herath emphasised a country had to have a production economy to achieve prosperity. He noted that greater economic benefits could be achieved through the addition of value to local raw materials.

Tilakaratne Banda, Secretary to the State Ministry said that the main objective of the programme was to implement a significant number of new entrepreneurs in the rubber-related industry especially through the eight rubber growing districts.

Only an average of 50 per cent of the rubber based products used in our country were produced locally and accordingly there was a huge trade gap for rubber production in the local market as well. Therefore, it would not be a challenging task for a local manufacturer to enter the rubber based manufacturing sector and win the market, the Minister said.

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