KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — The International Rubber Consortium (IRCo) will soon roll out a new export scheme that it said would help smallholders in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand stay competitive as fungus threatens their crops amid the US-China trade wars.
Its board of directors consisting of representatives from the three-member countries at a meeting held August 16 agreed to speed up the implementation of the sixth Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS), as part of efforts to prop up rubber prices by cutting back exports.
“TIM (Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia) confirmed their commitment in completing the implementation of the 6th AETS,” the consortium said in a statement.
“IRCo as the Secretariat of the Monitoring and Surveillance Committee confirmed that TIM complied and are fully committed with the respective export cutback under the 6th AETS implementation.”
The move comes as rubber exporters expressed concern over the spread of the Pestalotiopsis Disease, a type of fungal infestation, at plantations throughout Indonesia and peninsular Malaysia.
IRCo said Thailand has so far been spared, but is on high alert and is working on preventing the disease from spreading into its southern borders.
The disease has caused rubber prices to plunge. And with the China-US trade war showing no signs of abating soon, the consortium said exports have taken a hit and left the market with oversupply.
To keep prices competitive, the Indonesian Government announced in July that there will be at least 15 per cent reduction of Indonesia’s production in 2019.
To date, 382,000 hectares of natural rubber (NR) plantation have been affected by the disease. In addition, IRCo said it expects Thailand's production for 2019 to decrease due to tapper shortage made by unremunerative prices and erratic weather.
Malaysia's production is also expected to decline sharply because of low rubber prices.
IRCo said member countries have now intensified efforts to increase domestic consumption of rubber in infrastructure projects such as rubberised road, seismic and bridge bearings.
“NR is also used in other products such as dock fenders, playground safety tiles, traffic cones, road banners, fiber mats, etc,” it added.