Rubber Prices Doubled, Trade Officials Say

The price of Cambodian rubber products on the international market has doubled since last year, trade officials said Friday.

Although the price of Cam­bo­dian rubber has increased since 2002, the product’s overall value and demand has dropped over the past five years, according to Ly Phalla, director general at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Rubber Department.

The price of rubber in 2002 was between $450 and $500 per ton as freight on board, while the price this month rose to $920 and $950 per ton, Ly Phalla said. FOB is a product’s cost at the entrance of a foreign port.

Cambodian rubber marketed in Malaysia sold for even higher prices, Ly Phalla said. In July, a ton of rubber cost $1,154, and dropped to $1,080 per ton in August.

Despite the recent increase in price, rubber today is fetching a lower price than it did in 1996, when prices hit $1,660 a ton, Ly Phalla said.  Rubber prices should remain stable from September to Nov­ember this year, but may rise from December to February 2004 due to a seasonally induced drop in supply, Ly Phalla said.

Demand for Cambodian rubber has dropped over the past year due to the illegal trade of resin to Vietnam and aged rubber trees producing less resin, Ly Phalla said.

Cambodia exported 12,000 tons of rubber to Singapore, Viet­nam, Malaysia and other countries in the first seven months of 2003, Ly Phalla said.

In the same period in 2002, 20,000 tons of rubber were ex­ported, with the total for the year at 40,000 tons. The industry’s seven plantations have garnered a yearly average of $32 million in revenue since 2001, paying the government $2.3 million in export taxes, he said.

Decreased rubber production in Thailand and Malaysia also may drive up Cambodia’s output, rubber traders said Friday.

Mong Reththy, rubber trader and owner of the Mong Reththy Group, said a demanding international market must look elsewhere for resin, as Thailand and Malaysia have turned from producing rubber to palm oil.

“It is a good price. It’s good for people who have rubber plantations,” Mong Reththy said. “Going from an average of $500 per ton to $1,000 per ton is not bad.”


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