THAILAND: 'Rubber city' confirmed for Songkhla

In the SRIE's first phase, 60 rai are already available for sale from a total of 867 rai. In a 625-rai second phase, 351 rai have been developed.

Michelin Siam Co, one of the large firms already committed to the SRIE, is set to produce tyres on a 133-rai plot from early next year.

Witoon Simachokedee, the IEAT's chairman and the industry permanent secretary, said the SRIE's third phase will provide a "rubber city to promote rubber as the country's main industry".

The SRIE's environmental impact assessment has already been approved by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning.

The IEAT is now doubling the SRIE's daily tap water supply to 3,000 cubic metres to meet rising demand from factories.

The rubber city will cater to products such as rubber gloves, automobile tyres, rubber hoses, processed rubber latex and para wood, said Mr Witoon.

He said the 1.13-billion-baht project is due to be completed by 2016 at an average cost of 1.5 million baht per rai.

Developing the project fits with a 2013-18 national strategy focusing on rubber to help pull Thailand out of the middle-income trap. Rubber products already rank among the country's main income generators. The rubber city is expected to attract investment of 4.3 billion baht and generate 3.2 billion baht per year from rubber processing.

The plan is expected to generate 15,000 jobs including those in supporting industries, totalling 2.7 billion baht a year.

Source: Daily "Bangkok Post", Bangkok; 7 Oct 2013(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)