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Weak global demand punctures Jan-Nov rubber exports

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A worker collects sap from rubber trees in Chamkar Leu district of Kampong Cham province in February. Hong Menea

Weak global demand punctures Jan-Nov rubber exports

Cambodia netted more than $453 million from the export of rubber latex and wood in the first 11 months of 2022, marking a slight year-on-year dip that has been blamed on diminished global demand and production chain disruption across the world tied to the Covid-19 crisis.

These figures were revealed in a report from the General Directorate of Rubber (GDR), under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, obtained by The Post on December 20.

In the January-November period, Cambodia produced 317,282 tonnes of rubber latex, up 173 per cent or 0.05 per cent year-on-year, of which 311,286 tonnes or 98.11 per cent were exported – 2,161 tonnes or 0.69 per cent fewer than in the year-ago period.

The Kingdom also produced rubber wood corresponding to 30,532 cubic metres, of which 24,989 cubic metres equivalent, or 81.8 per cent, was sold overseas.

The average selling price of latex for the 11-month period was to the tune of $1,444 per tonne, down $220 or 13.2 per cent from the same time last year, the report noted.

GDR head Him Aun confirmed that Cambodia’s January-November rubber latex and wood exports earned total revenue of more than $453 million, with latex and wood representing $449 million and $3.8 million, respectively.

“From a short-term market perspective, demand conditions could have an impact on recovery. By the end of the year, global rubber production is expected to outpace demand – it could make the rubber market environment unhealthy,” he said.

By comparison, the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) has cited exports of “rubber and articles thereof” – corresponding to Chapter 40 of the harmonised tariff schedule – for January-November at $452.657 million, representing a 22.17 per cent year-on-year increase, whereas the GDR had indicated a minor decrease.

Nonetheless, GDCE data suggest that on-year export value growth slowed down considerably in the 2022 eleven-month period – the same interval in 2021 had seen a 54.45 per cent year-on-year increase.

Speaking to The Post, Men Sopheak, director of rubber grower-cum-exporter Sopheak Nika Investment Agro-Industrial Plants Co Ltd, largely hung the market’s woes on Covid, claiming that headwinds from geopolitical tensions are eroding global demand, and at the root of falling rubber prices the world over.

“Global economic factors, geopolitical issues caused by the war in Ukraine, and the confrontation between China and Taiwan have been exacerbating the drop in rubber demand,” he stressed, commenting that the Chinese are big buyers of the commodity.

According to the GDR, as of 2021, Cambodia had 404,044ha dedicated to rubber production, with 310,193ha or 76.77 per cent mature and tapped for latex, which yielded 368,000 tonnes last year, or an average of just below 1,200kg per hectare. According to Aun, the area under rubber cultivation has not seen significant changes in the past “two or three years”.

Cambodian rubber latex and wood exports topped $611.77 million in 2021, climbing up from $482 million a year earlier. Broken down by category, 366,300 tonnes of natural rubber latex – or over 99 per cent of total production last year – accounted for $610.26 million, and 454 cubic metres of rubber wood clocked in at $1.52 million, the directorate’s figures show.


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