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02. November 2005

SRI LANKA: Rubber sector regenerated

Source: "Daily News", Colombo; 2 Nov 2005

The Rubber Products Value Chain Core Group has seen a dramatic progress in the rubber sector and positive of achieving the expected growth target by 2007.

Senior Advisor International trade Centre (ITC) Ian Sayers said that the group expects the annual export volume of rubber products in the country could be increased up to 75,000 MT from the present 65,000 MT by the end of 2007 and making the export target for 2007 USD 344 million as the rubber sector has been regenerated under the sector strategy development with the support of the Value Chain Promotion Component of GTZ-Integration and the ITC. It could also improve quality increase production and productivity of enterprise mainly SMEs (small and medium size enterprises) engaged in rubber products manufacturing and small holder plantations at the supplier stage of the value chain he said. Having identified goals and key activities which are strategically important for a stable growth of the sector the VCP formulated a strategy outline underlining short term targets and main activities to be undertaken by the stakeholders for the development of the sector.

The rubber sector was in closing down state as a result of not being able to compete with Taiwan but with the value chain strategies developed, people have realised the benefits of working together rather than as individuals. National Advisor VCP Bernard Hettiarachchi said that the SME Rubber Sector entrepreneurs have formed into a SME Association to better co-ordinate and disseminate information for improvement within this sector and they are now happy to hold prestigious membership and become tax payers. He said that the response shown by the SMEs to form a People's Company was excellent and the VCP has offered assistance in logistics relating to the formation of the People's company to strengthen the SME rubber sector. Hettiarachchi said that the vision of the VCP is to export more high value added natural rubber based products to international markets minimising natural raw rubber exports because the rubber products industry has the potential to attain improved growth through expanding their business to export markets and develop SME into indirect exports.

The VCP has suggested to achieve its strategic objectives through sustained clustering, enhanced manufacturing and technological capabilities, improve supply side, attract and retain investment,use rubber wood to supplement returns and work with the public sector as a partner in progress.

It is estimated that an extra 8.5 million MT of rubber would be required by 2020.

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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