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Rubber industry in India should achieve global competitiveness: G. Madhavan Nair
Kochi, 04 March 2015

Significance of natural rubber will continue for years and the rubber industry in India should take all steps to become globally competitive, said Mr. G. Madhavan Nair, Former Chairman of ISRO, and Chairman, Centre for Management Development. He was inaugurating the India Rubber Meet 2015 (IRM 2015), at Le Meridien Convention Centre, Kochi today. Support through tariff protection will wane off eventually. Productivity enhancement, value addition and mechanisation are the means for achieving competitiveness, he added. Mr. Madhavan Nair also pointed out that satellite imaging has tremendous potential in identifying suitable areas for rubber cultivation. It can be used to assess the intensity of disease and help in crop prediction. He also released a book named Rubber Producer’s Society – twenty five years in retrospect, published by the Rubber Board, by handing over a copy to Dr. Salmiah Ahmad, Director-General, Malaysian Rubber Board.

The vital strength of Indian rubber industry is the synergy obtained through the co-existence of a well established rubber production sector and fast growing rubber products manufacturing sector, said Dr. A Jayathilak, Chairman of the Organising Committee (also Chairman, Rubber Board) in his welcome address. India Rubber Meet is a forum for the entire stakeholders in the rubber industry value chain to meet for exchange of information and networking, Chairman added.

The theme of IRM 2015 is ‘Finite resources: infinite opportunities’ which intends to cover the commercial opportunities of rubber including auxiliary activities. It is also proposed to examine the green agenda referring new sustainability goals. The first day of IRM 2015 was remarkable with a combination of invited talks and panel discussion. Dr John Baffes (Senior Economist, Development Prospects Group, World Bank) discussed ‘World economic scenario and commodity outlook’. His talk has given an insight to the ground realities of global market and future of various commodities including natural rubber. The recovery of global economy is still fragile but there is good hope for its improvement by 2016. Natural rubber will also benefit from this, he said. Based on a detailed analysis of the impact of reduction in oil prices on an array of commodities, he observed that its effect on natural rubber price is not very significant.

The second speech by Mr. Frank Grothaus (Consultant, UNCTAD, Geneva) was on ‘Sustainable development and low carbon growth’. He observed that ‘green tyre’ offers energy efficiency and environment protection. The sustainable NR initiative launched recently may go a long way in establishing the green image of natural rubber. Todays last talk was by Mr. Charu Kapoor (Principal, TATA Strategic Management) on the subject ‘Indian non tyre industry – current challenges and prospects’. He analyzed the problems of non-tyre rubber industry and suggested that rationalization of duty structure, upgradation in technology, increasing scale of production and image makeover of the industry to attract young professionals are essential for achieving Rs. 2500 million export value, Rs.100,00 million in daily turnover and 500,000 direct employment generation by the year 2025.

In the afternoon, there was an interactive panel discussion on the theme ‘Finite resources: infinite opportunities’. Dr. A Jayathilak, Chairman, Rubber Board chaired the discussions. The theme was handled from an international perspective. The panellists were Ms. Sheela Thomas (Secretary-General, Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, Malaysia), Dr. Stephen V. Evans (Secretary-General, International Rubber Study Group, Singapore), Datuk Dr. Abdul Aziz S.A. Kadir (Secretary General, International Rubber Research and Development Board, Malaysia) and Mr. Gunther Lottmann (Manager, Grupo Agroindustrial de Occidente, Guatemala).

The speakers for tomorrow are Datuk Dr. Salmiah Ahmad (Director-General, Malaysian Rubber Board), Dr. Stuart Cook (Director of Research, Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre, U.K.), Mr. Shashank Tripathi, (Executive Director, Pricewaterhouse Coopers India). The second day panel discussion will be chaird by Dr. A.K. Krishnakumar (Executive Director, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, New Delhi).

India Rubber Meet (IRM) 2015 is the second edition of the yearly event organized by the Rubber Board in partnership with stakeholder associations in rubber and related sectors. The Meet is a major initiative of Indian rubber industry to organise a regular forum for interaction, networking and exchange of information.

Dr. C. Kuruvilla Jacob
(Member Secretary Publicity Committee – India Rubber Meet 2015)

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