Rubber sector urged to enhance added value

The rubber sector needs to develop a long-term development strategy to enhance its added value and ensure sustainable development, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said at the annual Global Rubber Conference in Ho Chi Minh City on December 4.

At the conference (Credit: VGP)
At the conference (Credit: VGP)

The event, the fifth of its kind , was organised by the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA) and Malaysia’s Confexhub Group.

In 2014, Vietnam earned only US$1.8 billion from exporting over 85% of its material rubber – while processed products from the other 15% of rubber output brought in US$1.5 billion, Tuan said, suggesting that the sector shift to the processing industry and reduce the amount of raw rubber material exports .

He also urged the sector to develop relevant products for domestic and international markets with a view to taking advantage of the free trade agreements Vietnam has signed.

Meanwhile, VRA President Tran Ngoc Thuan highlighted the difficulties facing the sector in recent years and attributed them to the sluggish recovery of the international economy from the global economic crisis in 2008.

The expansion of rubber tree farming has been reduced due to a continuous fall in rubber prices . Low-efficiency rubber trees have now even been replaced with other crops, according to Thuan.

In order to overcome the problem, a representative from the association called for tax and investment incentives for the sector to boost production and exports .

The association also pledged to help expand markets for rubber wood while providing technical assistance to raise the quality of rubber products.

Sharing the a ssociation’s view, General Secretary of the International Rubber Research and Development Board Abdul Aziz Kadir suggested the Vietnamese rubber sector diversify its products, such as rubber wood processing and exports, and enhance ecotourism in rubber forests in a bid to increase the incomes of rubber farmers.

In 2015, natural rubber exports are expected to hit 1.1 million tonnes, worth a total of US$1.6 billion, about 10% down from the same period last year.

Vietnamese rubber has been shipped to more than 86 countries. Its main markets are China, Malaysia, India and the Republic of Korea.