VIETNAM: Rubber exports up in volume, down in value
Vietnam exported about 1.58 million tons of rubber in 2018 – worth USD 2.1 billion and up 14.5 percent in volume, but down 6.6 percent in value year-on-year, the General Department of Vietnam Customs reported. In December, the country earned USD 230 million from shipping 190,000 tons of rubber abroad, representing an increase of 12.7 percent but the value dropped 5.6 percent year-on-year. The price of rubber in the last month of 2018 increased as trade tensions between the US and China eased.
As the world’s largest rubber consumer and tyre maker, China consumed 10.1 million tons of rubber in 2017. Up to 33 Chinese businesses have been listed among the world’s biggest tyre manufacturers. Major rubber producers such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are expected to take measures to lift the price of rubber in the time to come. Meanwhile, Vietnam ranks fourth in rubber production globally, with its annual rubber output exceeding 1 million tons since 2015.
Vo Hoang An, Vice President and General Secretary of the Vietnam Rubber Association, said that over the past few years, rubber has been seen as one of the key sectors of the national economy. Despite various difficulties, its three main products – natural rubber, rubber products, and rubber wood – have experienced growth in export revenue, he said, adding that the sector contributed 3 percent to the country’s total export value of USD 215.1 billion in 2017.
However, all machines and technologies used in the Vietnamese rubber industry are imported and the country has yet to participate much in the global rubber supply chain or put much focus on the support industry, An pointed out. It is forecast that rubber exports to China will be sluggish due to the slowdown in the country’s economy, he said, suggesting local businesses expand into other markets in order to ease their reliance on Chinese business.