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

  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former

  • PM to open new Siem Reap int’l airport December 1

    Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders would jointly participate in the official opening of the new Chinese-invested Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on December 1. The airport symbolises a new page in the history of Cambodian aviation, which will be able to welcome long-distance flights to