Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rubber exports jump as smugglers siphon off profits

Rubber exports jump as smugglers siphon off profits

A worker collects coagulated latex at a rubber plantation in Kampong Cham’s Memot district in 2014.
A worker collects coagulated latex at a rubber plantation in Kampong Cham’s Memot district in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Rubber exports jump as smugglers siphon off profits

The total amount of rubber exported by Cambodia surged 30 percent last year, but widespread rubber smuggling on the Vietnamese border crippled potential profits from the booming industry.

Cambodia generated about $300 million in revenue by exporting nearly 189,000 tons of rubber last year, according to Pol Sopha, general director of the rubber department at the Ministry of Agriculture. The revenue boost was also helped by a 24 percent increase in the average price per ton, which was up to $1,586 last year, compared to $1,283 in 2016.

But while small-scale rubber farmers were able to sell their crops for a profit, the industry as a whole was crippled by massive smuggling operations that shipped much of the country’s rubber into Vietnam tax-free, according to Sopha.

“Now the price satisfies the family rubber farmers, but it doesn’t give a profit to the rubber industry,” he said yesterday. “We are trying to crack down on rubber smugglers…but they use the small gates at the border, which is difficult to control.”

Men Sopheak, vice president of rubber plantation operator Sopheak Nika Investment Group, blamed the smugglers for some recent closures and lack of profits for the bigger Cambodian rubber exporters.

“Most of the local exporters have been forced to shut down, since they could not compete with the rubber brokers who smuggle to the border without paying tax,” he said yesterday.

But those brokers were a boon for smaller rubber operations, often times paying farmers near the border a high price for their crops, according to Thy Sambo, president of the Tbong Khmum Family Rubber Association, which has 92 small-scale rubber farmers as members.

“From what we sold last year, we can say that it is fair enough for us if the price stays the same this year,” he said, adding that being close to the Vietnamese border meant higher prices from the rubber brokers. “We are not worried about our living.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and