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Cambodia expects to join international rubber group

Cambodia expects to join international rubber group

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Cambodia will soon join Thailand, where this worker is shown tapping into a rubber tree, and nine other nations in the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries. BLOOMBERG

Kingdom to be officially welcomed into the key intergovernmental trade body at annual meeting in November, giving it access to more expertise and data

When we become a member, we will know more about the global rubber situation...

Government officials hope Cambodia's impending membership in an intergovernmental rubber producers association will help the country integrate further into global markets and boost exports.

Ly Phalla, the director general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' rubber department, said Cambodia would have access to better information about global demand and pricing as a member of the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).

"When we become a member, we will know more about the global rubber situation, and they will know more about our production," he said.
Cambodia's acceptance is expected to be formally announced at the body's annual meeting in Vietnam on November 4, said Ly Phalla, who will serve as Cambodia's official representative at the association.

Support for producers
The Philippines is also due to join the group this year. The ANRPC was formed in October 1970 to promote the overall interest of the natural rubber community and currently includes China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

It does not set prices, preferring to leave that to member countries, but Ly Phalla said it aims to keep prices stable. Membership would also give Cambodia improved access to technical expertise, he said.

Cambodia currently sells almost all its rubber to China, but it tends to sell at 10 percent or more below international prices due to a "lack of knowledge about, and certification of, Cambodian rubber", the UN Development Programme said in a report earlier this year.

Recognition
Ly Phalla said Cambodia applied to join the association only on July 21. "They have seen our request, and they are happy to accept Cambodia as a member," he said, adding the acceptance was recognition of the quality of Cambodian natural rubber.

"Investments taking place in the natural rubber production sector since the last few years in Cambodia and Philippines indicate the potential of the two countries to be significant players in the commodity's global supply in future," ANRPC Secretary General Dr Djoko Said Damardjati wrote in the association's August bulletin.

"Membership of the two countries would be helpful in further widening the coverage of the data published through the monthly bulletin."
Global production of natural rubber has fallen by 4.6 percent up to July 2009, according to ANRPC estimates.

Ly Phalla said low-grade rubber was currently selling on the Malaysia rubber exchange for $1800 per ton, but Cambodia was receiving just $1,600 to $1,700 per tonne for its grade 3 and 4 rubber. Prices have dropped by half since last year, he said.

However, Mak Kimhong, director-general of the Rubber Plantation Association told the Post last week prices had reached as high as $1,930 per tonne but had dropped to $1,840.

He has exported 4,000 tonnes to Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore this year, he said.

The government plans to expand the area under rubber cultivation to 150,000 hectares by 2015. Mak Kimhong said membership of the association would do more than any government plan to boost the area under plantation.

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