RI, Thailand and Malaysia to meet on rubber price
Indonesia, the world’s second- biggest natural rubber producer, is considering proposing a minimum price for natural rubber under an agreement with other large Southeast Asian producers Thailand and Malaysia, to avert further decline of the commodity’s price in international markets.
The measure would likely help stabilize the commodity price amid slowing demand during the current global economic crisis, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said on Friday.
“It [setting a minimum price] is one of the alternatives that we’re considering,” he told reporters at his office in Jakarta.
The government would “soon” meet Thailand and Malaysian counterparts to discuss the issue, but the exact time frame was yet to be determined, Gita added.
The three countries, whose natural rubber production accounts for 70 percent of global output, might jointly limit exports when necessary and set an export quota for natural rubber, Thailand Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Nuttawut Saikua said on Thursday.
A joint effort to cut sales through a tripartite agreement in 2009 by the Southeast Asian producers was proven effective to maintain prices during previous economic crises.
Rubber futures have slid 28 percent this quarter, the worst quarter since 2008, and have dropped 10 percent so far this year, as the global economic slowdown weakens global demand.
The December-delivery contract dropped by 3 percent to 233.2 yen per kilogram (US$2,944 per metric ton) before trading at ¥235.6 on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange.
Asril Sutan Amir, the chairman of the Indonesian Rubber Association (Gapkindo), said on Friday that the minimum price should be set at about $4 per kilogram. The three producers also needed to plan supply management, agree on export tonnage and reduce tapping frequency, he added.
“The three countries should apply all of these measures instead of just a single measure to make the joint efforts more effective,” Asril said in a telephone interview.
Farmers have reduced tapping, which will cut the nation’s rubber output by 9.7 percent to 2.8 million tons, lower than previous estimations of up to 3 million tons, he added.
Domestic output was already down by 6 percent to 700,000 in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier, the association’s data shows.
Gapkindo also estimated that along with the declining output, exports might tumble by up to 8 percent to 2.3 million tons this year from last year.
During the first quarter of this year, Indonesia exported 564,320 tons of rubber, down by 10 percent from the same period last year, according to the data.