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16. July 2017

THAILAND: Rubber farmers want USD 44 help

Rubber farmers want Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to use his special powers to help bolster demand for the commodity, for which prices have slumped nearly 40 % this year.

Prayoonsit Kananurk, a spokesman for the Thai Rubber Cooperatives, said on Saturday (8 July 2017) that members unanimously favoured Gen Prayut using Section 44 of the interim constitution to address sagging rubber prices.

For example, he said, the order could be used to require state agencies to use rubber for road construction and repairs, and for other state projects as needed.

The network has designed a banner with a message supporting its position, copies of which will be put up in all rubber-growing provinces, Mr Prayoonsit added.

The Rubber Network Council and Rubber Institute of Thailand on Friday (7 July 2017) urged the prime minister to act quickly as fresh rubber prices had sunk below THB 40 per kilogram and appeared likely to move lower.

World rubber prices have been going downhill as global demand falls, largely because of decreasing orders from China, the world's top consumer of the commodity. The prolonged slump in oil prices has also affected the sector, as petroleum-based synthetic rubber is now more affordable for producers of tyres.

The local price of benchmark ribbed smoked sheet (RSS3) was quoted on Friday (7 July 2017) at THB 53.50 per kilogram, 38 % less than the average of 86.16 THB in January, according to the Rubber Authority of Thailand.

Thailand exported 3.8 million tonns of rubber last year, a 7 % drop from 2015, according to Bank of Thailand figures.

Gen Prayut said on his weekly television program on Friday (7 July 2017) that the country had an oversupply of rubber as some farmers had encroached on up to 3 million rai of state land to turn it into rubber plantations.

He warned of legal action against the encroachers and urged farmers not to put pressure on the government to follow their demands.

The government already encouraged state agencies to use rubber, he said, but such a policy could not produce instant results since there was a time lag between purchasing the commodity and processing it for end-use.

Source: Daily “The Bangkok Post”, Bangkok; 8 July 2017

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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