Vipin V. Nair
Kochi, March 10
IMPORTS of natural rubber during the September-December 2004 quarter more than doubled over the corresponding period of previous fiscal, according to the latest data by the Rubber Board.
Rubber imports in the third quarter stood at 10,127 tonnes compared with 4,480 tonnes imported in the same quarter of 2003-04. For the cumulative nine-month period, rubber imports stood at 48,935 tonnes over 33,123 tonnes a year ago.
Tyre makers, who consume 52 per cent of the country's natural rubber production, upped the imports during the period as part of their plan to import a total of 60,000 tonnes in 2004-05, a jump of 39 per cent over the previous fiscal.
Rubber production in the quarter was 2.55 lakh tonnes, up from 2.45 lakh in the corresponding period. For the nine-month period, production totalled 5.89 lakh tonnes, as against 5.58 lakh tonnes in the same period a year ago.
The Rubber Board had earlier forecast a seven per cent growth in production in the current fiscal to 7.60 lakh tonnes. Industry sources said current trends indicated that the production for the whole year would as much as predicted.
Production in January this year is expected to be around 80,000-85,000 tonnes, while February is likely to add 30,000-35,000 tonnes. The remaining quantity would come in this month as tapping still continues in many parts of Kerala.
Consumption during the October-December quarter was 1.88 lakh tonnes. Exports were also marginally up at 27,491 tonnes, the data showed.
However, for the nine-month period, rubber exports recorded a decline of 10 per cent at 40,734 tonnes over 45,418 tonnes in the same period a year ago.
The Government had earlier announced a cut in the export subsidy and imposed a cap on the quantity that was eligible for the subsidy. The sources say that this move has been largely responsible for the exports to drop in the period, after recording impressing growth in the previous years.