Cambodia exported 42,189 tons of dry rubber from January through June, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Commerce, up 42 percent compared to rubber exports during the first half of 2013. Despite the jump in exports, revenue from half-year rubber exports fell nearly 2 percent, from $76.5 million to $75 million.
A spokesman for the Commerce Ministry could not be reached. Mak Kimhong, president of the Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia, declined to comment.
In May, however, the association said the price for Cambodia's rubber exports had tumbled to $1,500 per ton from $2,200 at the start of the year. It said the falling prices had forced at least a third of the country's rubber processing factories to suspend operations. Both domestic and global prices have been on the decline for the past few years owing to an oversupplied market and slowing demand from China, a major importer of raw rubber.
Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen heralded rubber as Cambodia's next big agricultural export earner, and set a goal of nearly tripling the amount of land under rubber cultivation, from 300,000 hectares to 840,000 hectares within five years. Hang Chuon Naron, then a secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, said annual rubber exports would reach 1 million tons in no more than a decade.
But on 31 July 2014, Ly Phalla, who heads the Agriculture Ministry's rubber department, said he did not expect rubber prices - or cultivation - to start rising significantly any time soon. "Now in the world is the oversupply. Second, now the world economy [has] not recovered yet, he said, citing China's increasing move to domestic producers as yet another cause. "I [am] optimistic the price [will] go up, but not more than $2,200 per ton, he said, and not before 2020. Until then, Mr. Phalla said, the number of hectares under cultivation was unlikely to keep rising as the prime minister had hoped. "It will not go down, he said, "but maybe [it will stay] still.
Source: "The Cambodia Daily", Phom Penh; 1 Aug 2014 (Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)