Firmer prospects as rubber rebounds
Cambodia’s beleaguered rubber industry looks set for a turnaround as international rubber prices continue their strong rebound. Local traders and industry officials said on January 12 they were optimistic that rubber prices, which doubled during the course of 2016, would continue to rise as the global economy recovers and demand driven heavily by developing economies catches up with supply. Pol Sopha, general-director of the rubber department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said local rubber producers exported 148,000 tonnes of natural rubber last year, a 13.5 percent increase on 2015’s output. However, the average price of these exports last year was just $1,200 per tonne, about $300 lower than in 2015. Rubber prices dipped to a seven-year low of $1,050 per tonne in March 2016. The latter half of the year, however, saw prices surge to over $2,000 per tonne on China’s improved economic outlook and rising crude oil prices. They have also been buoyed by recent widespread flooding in southern Thailand, a major rubber-producing area.