Rubber Exports Increase, Value Down for 2014

Cambodia’s rubber export volume increased by about 33 percent last year compared to 2013, while the value of rubber decreased by about 9 percent during the same period, according to figures released by the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

Total export volume in 2014 reached 97,803 tons, up from 73,551 tons the year before, the figures show, while the value of all rubber in the country dropped from $169.34 million to $155.26 million.

Cambodia’s rubber sector has been on the decline in recent months, with prices tumbling as a result of global abundance and slowing demand from China. An illicit cross-border trade in the commodity has also been making it difficult for the industry to see significant growth.

Chea Sayim, president of the Memot Family Rubber Development Association in Kompong Cham province, said the price of rubber in his region of the country has remained very low over the past two months. He said the price per ton for plate rubber was $1,250, while raw rubber was going for 1,700 riel, or just over $0.40, per kg.

“In general, farmers…are just waiting for good news with so little hope about any action being taken by higher organizations to improve the prices,” Mr. Sayim said. “Some farmers have started to cut down some of their rubber trees to use the existing land to grow other crops like pepper.”

Ly Phalla, who heads the Agriculture Ministry’s general directorate of rubber, said the increase in exports last year was likely the result of plantations hurrying to offload their excess stock.

He said Cambodian officials planned to attend a conference about the global rubber industry in Indonesia in late February in the hope of finding a way to rescue the local market.

“We will go to participate in a meeting in Indonesia to review the rubber situation and a strategy to improve the rubber market, and to discuss the possibility of creating a regional market so that we would be able to strengthen ne­gotiating power in the international market in order to prevent an oversupply,” he said.

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