Rubber is poised to emerge as a potent growth driver for economic relations between India and the Philippines which have remained muted over the years.

A 35-member delegation from the Philippines, including government officials, rubber and products manufacturers, visited India and held a wide ranging talks with the Rubber Board, Rubber Research Institute of India and All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA).

According to Niraj Thakkar, President, AIRIA, the Philippines has identified India as a key partner for reinvigorating its rubber sector as India has strengths across the entire rubber spectrum, including rubber farming, processing and manufacturing.

Besides discussions with the Rubber Board on developing high-yielding clones of rubber trees for increasing rubber plantations, the delegation visited the rubber manufacturing units and machinery manufacturers.

He said in the 9-member Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC), the Philippines stood at 8th rank in rubber production last year with a production of 1,16,400 tonnes.

The country has now sharpened its focus on expanding rubber production. Yield of rubber plantations has gone up from 1,78,600 hectares in 2012 to around 2,11,600 hectares in 2014.

Thakkar said that the India visit was focused on increasing competitiveness in production, processing and manufacturing of rubber to increase domestic and export sales, attract investments in the rubber sector and create jobs.