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19. March 2007

SINGAPORE: Global rubber think-tank to leave London for Singapore

Source: Daily "The Nation", Bangkok; 19 Mar 2007

A leading think-tank and data publisher on the global
rubber industry is moving its headquarters to
Singapore from London next year.

The move by the International Rubber Study Group
(IRSG) will add vibrancy to the industry and spur more
events, such as industry conventions, say industry watchers.

With links to its earlier trading days, Singapore
trades nearly half of the world's rubber and is close
to three key rubber producers: Malaysia, Thailand and
Indonesia. The government's trade-promotion arm, IE
Singapore, led the lobbying effort to attract
the IRSG by presenting a proposal to the organisation
in London last December.

The IRSG, which is due to move its international
headquarters here by June 2008, is a global
intergovernmental think-tank.

It publishes data on rubber production, consumption,
trade and prices and prepares forecasts of rubber
usage and output.

It also publishes economic studies. For instance, last
year it did studies on the prospects for China's
rubber industries by 2020.

In an e-mail to The Straits Times, IRSG
secretary-general Hidde Smit called Singapore a
natural choice "in view of the proximity of many
important players and institutions".

Singapore handles more than half of the world's rubber
trade. The Singapore Commodity Exchange said 4.6
million tonnes of rubber valued at US$9 billion (Bt315
billion) were traded here last year.

Some major rubber players based here include
Bridgestone, Goodyear, Amtel and the Tat Lee Group. IE
Singapore corporate group director Kathy Lai said the
IRSG would have a large impact on rubber companies here.

"The IRSG is a welcome addition to the rubber
industry's value chain in Singapore, which comprises
buyers, sellers, traders and companies in supporting industries.

"The rubber community here can access IRSG studies
that are most pertinent to the current needs of the
industry."

Rubber companies agree.

Bridgestone Singapore managing director Tod Knopp
said: "This is an opportunity for the rubber industry
to leverage on its resources." The Rubber Trade
Association of Singapore also backed the move.
Chairman Ling Lee Hua said: "The relocation of the
IRSG here will ensure that the interests of all
sectors, from producers to consumers, will be well
represented and looked after."

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce Rubber
Association chairman Christian Tollkuehn said: "The
relocation will spur research through exchange studies
with Singapore Management University and the National
University of Singapore."



(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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