Grand finale to World Rubber Summit 2018
The World Rubber Summit 2018 organized by the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), held in Colombo on May 7-8, 2018, underlined the need to involve every segment of the rubber industry in the sustainable development of the industry.
The theme of the World Rubber Summit 2018 was Breaking Barriers Towards Sustainable Growth. The Summit created a unique and exclusive opportunity for the global rubber industry to discuss the current challenges that the industry is facing and discuss the future opportunities.
There were key discussions on current and future industry trends in rubber production and consumption. About 300 delegates drawn from various countries attended the event in which over 40 papers were presented.
The Chief Guest of the event, Navin Dissanayake, Minister of Plantation Industries, Government of Sri Lanka, in his keynote address , said: “Rubber production segment can promote sustainable development through carefully managed value chain processes in plantations, smallholdings, factories and trading houses.”
Dissanayake expressed his concern over interventions by governments through various measures such as subsidies, free farm inputs and income support which require costly structures to implement. “It seems that this populist belief is unsustainable, counterproductive and helps only the consumers to procure rubber at an artificial price thus indirectly subsidizing big businesses. Does the industry bear the cost of subsidies directly or indirectly? I see no evidence,” he said.
Price stability on par with increasing productivity should be the priority of policymakers and policies should focus on bottom layer of the value pyramid rather than the top layer, Dissanayake said.
Speaking on investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, S.P.K. Wijayatilake, Executive Director (Investment Promotions), Board of Investments, Sri Lanka, said that declining poverty, over 90% literacy rate, increasing per capita income, skilled manpower and high ethical labour code make Sri Lanka an attractive destination in Asia for the manufacturing industry.
“Being neighbour to the world’s two fastest growing economies, India and China, Sri Lanka is a gateway to the East and the West. Though the country is not a big domestic market, it is an ideal place to be the export hub for companies owing to its strategic location and infrastructure such as ports,“ he said.
According to Takehito Sumikawa, Partner, McKinsey & Company, diverse mobilities such as electric vehicles, shared mobility and autonomous driving will have its impact on the auto sector. Since the auto sector has a long-term cycle, industry professionals will need to have long-term plans.
Sunam Sarkar, President and Chief Business Officer, Apollo Tyres Ltd., said consumer preference is driving the demand in the tyre industry. As such, the tyre companies have to be more flexible in business models, and focus on affordability, technology and sustainability.
Speaking on Rubber Gloves Industry–Growth Opportunities Beyond Tyres, Justin Seneviratne, Director, Lalan Rubbers, said the high cost of labour, scarcity of water, high energy cost etc are the main challenges facing the glove industry.
Moenardji Soedargo, Chairman, GAPKINDO, the rubber association of Indonesia, explained the association’s efforts on sustainability and said the association will continue to focus on sustainable natural rubber development in Indonesia.
Highlighting challenges in the rubber glove industry in Malaysia, Chan Wone Fu, Chief Executive Officer, MARGMA said energy, latex supply, manpower and water supply are the challenges for the industry and MARGMA engages the Malaysian Government regularly to deal with these challenges.
Dr Zairossani Mohd Nor, Director General, Malaysian Rubber Board, emphasized on empowering small holders through engagement in upstream and downstream activities by establishing cooperatives.