Manila seeks Thai help with rubber plantations

               The Philippine government is wooing Thai investors to invest in rubber plantations as part of their plan to expand plantation area from 100,000 to one million hectares over the next 15 years.

               Luckchai Kittipol, president of Thai Rubber Association, discussed the proposals recently with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

                He said the Philippine president also discussed the possibility of Philippine producers learning more from their Thai counterparts about rubber sheet production and rubber plantation and production methods in Thailand.

               The country wants to take advantage of growing demand for rubber and favourable prices in the global market.

               Manila would allow foreign investors a 100% stake in plantations, with 25-year land leases plus a 25-year renewal.

               Mr Luckchai said association members would meet early next month to discuss the proposals from Manila.

               Apart from Thailand, Mr Luckchai said large operators from China were being encouraged by Philippine authorities to invest in rubber plantations.

               Chinese investors are eager to gain more supply sources for their country's booming automotive tyre industry. They have already invested in growing rubber in several countries including Burma, Vietnam and Laos.

               However, Mr Luckchai noted the land rental incentive offered by the Philippines was less attractive than in Laos, where a 40-year lease with a 40-year extension is available.

               Philippine rubber planters are predominantly smallholders, with each farmer owning an average of three to five hectares. About 70% of the rubber produced in the country is absorbed by the tyre and footwear industries.

               Last year, 110,958 hectares in the Philippines were planted with rubber, yielding volumes of 404,070 tonnes.


source : Bangkokpost