1. Representatives from Member Countries of the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC) namely Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia (TIM) have met several times to discuss and analyse the prevailing market situations of natural rubber (NR) including implementation of reduction, export value, affected production by disease and price.
2. ITRC Member Countries have completed the implementation of the 6th Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS) starting from 1 April 2019 with full compliance as one entity and individual countries. After the period of the 6th AETS implementation, the total actual export reduction of three Countries reached 441,648 MT which is larger than the targeted cutback of 240,000 MT. With the completion of the 6th AETS implementation, three Countries announced that there is no ‘hanging’ stock to be released to the Market pursuant to the implementation.
3. It was reported that during the first half of 2019, the gross NR export for ITRC Member Countries was 492,000 MT (10.60%) lower than the same period in 2018, while the gross of NR export for other producing countries particularly in Viet Nam, Ivory Coast and Cambodia increased around 106,000 MT (11.56%). In 2019, there is a high possibility that the estimated NR production for ITRC Member Countries reduce as much as 800,000 MT.
4. In addition to that, ITRC Member Countries also expressed its concern on the wide spread of Pestalotiopsis disease (Fungal disease) which affected rubber plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
5. It was observed that the Fungal disease has widely spread to plantations in those three Countries. Per 1 October 2019, as much as 382,000 hectares of NR plantation have been affected in Indonesia. The estimated affected area in Peninsular Malaysia is 2,135 hectares with leaf defoliation between 50% to 90% for the period from November 2017 to September 2019.
6. Thailand reported 20 hectares on the 1st day it observed the spread of this disease which happened a few months ago. After conducting a survey in the southern part of Thailand along Malaysia’s border, the estimated affected areas in one province was reported at 16,000 hectares in Narathiwat province and could be at least 50,000 hectares along the border area. The areas that have been severely damaged by this disease are around 80%. Production reduced by 40 – 60% record was reported by farmers in the area. This will greatly affect rubber production as the months of October, November and December are usually the peak harvest period months of the year. Latest information reported that this disease has spread to Trang province, one of the most crowded rubber areas.
7. One of the major causes of this spread is unhealthy rubber trees due to very low rubber prices in the past 5 – 6 years. With less income received, this induced rubber farmers to abandon and ignore the recommended fertilizing system.
8. ITRC Member Countries are on alert as the spread of this disease was very fast in Thailand and there is possibility to spread to more rubber plantations in the southern part of Thailand due to very crowded rubber trees and concentrated areas. The Rubber Authority of Thailand (RAOT) is currently implementing various efforts to contain the spread with the assistance of various organisations domestically and the International Rubber Research Development Board (IRRDB). In Malaysia, the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) has carried out disease advisories, trainings and spraying demonstration on how to identify and control the disease by fungicide application.
9. For the benefits of all rubber smallholders and other stakeholders in NR industry, ITRC Member Countries will collectively monitor and continue to implement related measures to ensure that NR price moves to remunerative level including effort to address rubber disease and sustainability of NR.
6 November 2019