Without the endorsement of a professional association, Cambodia is still forced to sell its latex rubber at lower prices, industry officials warn.
Cambodia needs to join the International Rubber Association or suffer a low value for its rubber and less access to markets, said Mong Reththy, whose Mong Reththy Group has significant rubber investments.
His conglomerate would have collected more than $1 million more last year if the prices paid for Cambodian rubber had been comparable to that paid for Malaysian and Singaporean rubber.
Malaysian and Singapore are members of the International Rubber Association. Prices for their rubber this year are around $680 per ton, Mong Reththy said. Cambodian rubber sells for about $580 per ton.
“Our latex rubber finds it difficult to compete on the market with them because our country is not yet a member of the International Rubber Association,” Mong Reththy said.
Cambodia exports about 40,000 tons of rubber annually all to Asian markets, said Ly Phalla, director-general for the rubber department of the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2002, the country is expected to export about 45,000 tons.
Cambodia applied last year for induction into the association. A meeting to review the application was scheduled for September, but was postponed after the terror attacks in the US. Cambodian rubber will be tested for compliance with international standards as part of the application process.
The rubber industry employs about 15,000 workers on about 70,000 hectares of land, Ly Phalla said. Over the next 10 years, the government, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, hopes to expand rubber production to 150,000 hectares.
For now, Cambodia will have to limit itself to Asian markets, since the volume produced is not enough to enter the international market.
“I think the amount of our product won’t [compete with] the demand from the US market,” said Kek Ravy, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce.