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Rubber sector aims for value-added products

Update: December, 10/2009 - 16:10

Workers of the Southern Rubber Industry Co make tyres. Developing the rubber processing industry to result in more value-added products would help rubber exports increase, said an analyst. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

Workers of the Southern Rubber Industry Co make tyres. Developing the rubber processing industry to result in more value-added products would help rubber exports increase, said an analyst. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

HA NOI — Developing the rubber processing industry to result in more value-added products is a way to increase rubber export value, now largely derived from exports of unprocessed latex, says Professor Nguyen Viet Bac from the Institute of Materials Chemistry.

In addition to increasing export value, the prices of processed rubber products tended to remain stabler, Bac said, noting as an example the stability of tyre prices even as raw material prices halved in 2008.

But Southern Rubber Industry Joint Stock Co general director Le Van Tri also noted the large investment required to produce automobile tyres, something generally out of reach for the nation’s rubber producers.

While natural latex can be domestically sourced, these firms need to import large volumes of chemicals for processing. To produce a tyre, for instance, firms need to import 30 kinds of chemicals, accounting for 50 per cent of the total raw materials.

Viet Nam Rubber Association general secretary Tran Thi Thuy Hoa also blamed the weak rubber processing industry on the country’s underdeveloped petrochemical sector.

Anh Duong Rubber Joint Stock Co director Hoang Ngoc Yen agreed. He said that his company, which produced rubber pipes for export, had to import not only materials but also equipment and technology for production.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has approved a plan to add another 70,000ha to the area nationwide under rubber cultivation, with a goal to ultimately increasing the total area to as much as 800,000ha.

The plan projects an annual latex yield of 1.1 million tonnes by 2015 and an annual export value for rubber and rubber products of US$1.8 billion.

Under the plan, the Government would continue to provide capital for research into new and hybrid varieties of rubber as well as importation of of higher quality, higher yield varieties.

Trade promotion efforts would also be stepped up to expand export markets and boost sales of rubber products.

Additional foreign investment, including joint ventures with foreign firms using more advanced technologies, would also be sought in the attempt to foster development of the rubber processing industry and diversify products for export.

The nation exported nearly 540,000 tonnes of rubber, worth $823 million, during the first 10 month of this year, a 2.5 per cent increase in volume but a 41.2 per cent decrease in value compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the association’s latest statistics. — VNS

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