11/09/2011

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MALAYSIA: Malaysia aims to make comeback as world's largest rubber producer

The Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan said the country used to be the number one producer globally in the mid 80s but was now in third spot.

Currently, Thailand is the world's number one in terms of production, followed by Indonesia.

"The government is placing emphasis on producing more rubber in Malaysia by not only concentrating on Peninsular Malaysia but also Sabah and Sarawak," he told reporters after opening the Fifth International Plastics and Rubber Trade Fair Malaysia (M-PLAS) 2011, in Kuala Lumpur here today (9 Nov. 2011).

During the tabling of the 2012 Budget last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced an allocation for planting new areas with rubber trees as well as the rubber replanting scheme.

He said the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA) will carry out the implementation of new plantations and rubber replanting programmes with an allocation of RM 140 million benefiting 20,000 smallholders.

"This allocation will provide opportunities for smallholders to plant more rubber trees in the future," Jacob said.

He said looking at the price at the moment, the future for rubber is bright.

"The price will continue to rise, translating into more revenue for the country, while having a positive impact on smallholders," he added.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Rubber Products Manufacturers' Association Executive Director Kong Ping Yee said the reason behind Malaysia's fall from the top spot in respect of rubber production, was the shift in interest towards downstream activities and higher returns from palm oil.

"We see the target to be number one again as something realistic, especially with more new rubber plantations coming up. Although at third spot in terms of production, we are quite strong in downstream activities," he added.

Earlier in his speech, Jacob said the rubber industry had contributed RM12.8 billion to the country's export earnings in 2010, and rubber products accounted for two per cent of Malaysia's total exports.

He said the Malaysian rubber products industry is made up of more than 500 manufacturers producing latex products, from tyres and tyre-related products, to industrial and general rubber products.

Source: "Bernama" (Malaysian National News Agency), Kuala Lumpur; 9 Nov 2011

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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