Cambodia's rubber exports increased 23 per cent in the first quarter of this year on the same period last year, while rubber prices continue to decrease, according to figures from the General Directorate of Rubber under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The data showed the Kingdom exported 48,192 tonnes of rubber in the first quarter of this year, a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period last year, with an average price of $1,279 per tonne, a 12 per cent decrease.
Based on prices and export volumes, the industry generated some $61 million in revenue in the first quarter of this year.
Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia (ARDC) president Men Sopheak said the rise in exports is due to increasing rubber yields and market demand.
“The number of mature rubber trees is increasing, so it results in more production for exports,” he said. “Even though prices are decreasing, we [rubber producers] and farmers still need to sell our stock to pay for production costs.”
‘Difficult for rubber producers’
General Directorate of Rubber director-general Pol Sopha said the world economy is slowing down and the fluctuation of rubber prices depends on the international market
“If prices continue to decrease, it will be difficult for rubber producers and farmers. Currently prices are unfavourable for the industry, but are still okay for family-owned rubber plantations,” he said, adding that labour costs remain a challenge.
However, Sopha added that rubber remains an agricultural product with more potential compared to others.
“To keep the rubber sector sustainable, we need to have factories to process raw material into finished products. That will help the sector a lot and the country,” he said.
He continued that the major destination markets for rubber exports are Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Singapore.
The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) recently announced it had approved a $2.7 million rubber processing factory in Tbong Khmum province.
Cambodia exported 217,500 tonnes of dry rubber last year, a jump of about 15 per cent compared to 2017, with an average price of $1,319 per tonne.
ARDC president Sopheak said it is unlikely that rubber prices will increase while global supply is on the rise and demand has dropped.
He said dry rubber prices must be at least $1,500-$1,600 per tonne to be profitable for the industry.