Special Correspondent

ATMA seeks Rubber Board intervention

Correct stock position of rubber to be ascertained

KOCHI: Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) envisages the import of 1.5 lakh tonnes of rubber during the current financial year to tide over the problems of availability and price stability.

Talking to reporters here, ATMA director-general Rajiv Budhraja said the association representatives had recently met with Rubber Board Chairman Sajan Peter and sought effective intervention of the board to make available natural rubber for domestic consumers. We also sought steps to ‘keep away manipulators and speculative interests’ from the futures market, he said. Though the Rubber Board figures talk of about two lakh tonnes of natural rubber stock, the domestic price continues to be high, he said.

There was also the problem of availability of quality rubber. The board responded by pointing out that the Indian Institute of Plant Management had been entrusted with a study to assess the correct stock position of natural rubber.

The Forward Markets Commission had been asked to ensure that the intra-day limits for futures trading in natural rubber are confined to two per cent from the present four per cent.

Though rubber import was less than 80,000 tonnes each in the past couple of years, tyre manufacturers had been insisting on doubling imports to counter the challenges of imported tyres and high volatility in the prices of natural rubber here.

About forty per cent of the cost of production is for raw material procurement. The consumption of rubber in the tyre sector had gone up from 51 per cent in 2002-03 to fifty eight per cent during 2008-09, he said. However, while the production of natural rubber rose by five per cent last year, the consumption went up only by one per cent.

As per figures, the rubber production was to the tune of 8.65 lakh tonnes during 2008-09 of which about 86,000 tonnes were being used for industrial purposes. The import of rubber was nearly 80,000 tonnes and export was about 20,000 tonnes.

Mr. Budhraja said the threat of cheap import of tyres from countries like China was also posing problems for the industry. There was more than fifty per cent increase in import of tyres, which was 1.11 lakh each month during the calendar year 2008 as against 73,000 during 2007.