MoC reports slight decrease in rubber export value during Oct-July

Worker rolling raw rubber
Myanmar’s rubber price hit the highest record in 2011 with K1,800 per pound and $6,000 per tonne. Photo : Khon (Win Pa)

Myanmar has exported over 196,000 tonnes of rubber worth over US$230 million as of July-end in the current financial year since 1 October 2019, which shows a decrease of over $10 million compared with the corresponding period of the previous FY, the Ministry of Commerce’s data showed.
During a year-ago period, over $240 million worth 190,000 tonnes were shipped to the external markets. The COVID-19 pandemic caused rubber price to drastically plunge to K350-500 per pound in early May, incurring financial hardships to the growers.
The sharp drop in rubber price this year hurt the growers. Some cannot even afford to cover the cost of land preparation during the monsoon season.
Some rubber producers working on a manageable scale are exporting rubber to a small extent, so the export data is still witnessed during the closing season. Rubber price is usually on the high side when the rubber tapping season starts. In 2017, rubber fetched above K900 per pound in the opening season. However, it fell to a low of K500 per pound then, forcing some rubber farm owners to shut down their businesses without tapping latex as they cannot cover labour wages, said Daw Lin Lin Tun, rubber producer of Hlaingbwe Township. Myanmar’s rubber price hit the highest record in 2011 with K1,800 per pound and $6,000 per tonne. At present, RSS3 rubber fetched around K680 per pound, as per data of the Myeik District Agricultural Department. An improvement in Myanmar rubber exports will be directly related to the price offered, according to the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association (MRPPA).
The volatile rubber price is related to global climate change, and government subsidy will be required for growers to produce quality rubber, said an official of the MRPPA. Rubber is primarily produced in Mon and Kayin states and Taninthayi, Bago, and Yangon regions in Myanmar. There are over 1.6 million acres of rubber plantations in Myanmar, with Mon State accounting for about 500,000 acres, followed by Kayin State (270,000 acres), according to the MRPPA. About 300,000 tonnes of rubber is produced annually across the country. Seventy per cent of rubber made in Myanmar goes to China. It is also shipped to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Korea, India, Japan, and other countries.
At present, Myanmar is exporting only raw rubber sheets owing to lack of machinery and technology. Export rubber varieties include synthetic rubber, ribbed smoked sheet RSS 1,3,5, Myanmar Standard Rubber MSR-20, Technically Specified Rubber TSR-20, and Crepe Rubber.
The MRPPA had sought special rubber zones in the regions and states to produce value-added rubber and quality raw materials at the 15th regular meeting with private entrepreneurs, led by Vice President U Myint Swe, which was held last year.
About 150,000 tonnes of rubber worth $186 million was exported in the FY2017-2018. Myanmar shipped over 200,000 tonnes of rubber, with an estimated value of $250 million, to external markets in the FY2018-2019, an increase of 50,000 tonnes which helped boost earnings by over $60 million compared to the year-ago period, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce.—Ko Htet (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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