June 5, 2020
Coimbatore : United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) Friday sought for an immediate moratorium of Natural Rubber (NR) imports for a minimum period of two years.
The NR sector has been going through a phase of severe crisis due to the steep fall in prices for the last 8 years and have been far below the cost of production and the main reason for this being unrestricted surge of cheap imports into the country from South East Asian origins, UPASI President AL RM Nagappan, said in a letter to Union Commerce and Industry and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.
The spread of COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lock down, turned out to be a double whammy as NR production came to a grinding halt and the present situation is threatening the very existence of the sector, he claimed.
The opening stock of NR in the country estimated at 3.4 lakh tonnes [as on April 1 2020] roughly translates to six months of production, which further reiterates the need to declare import moratorium, he said.
Nagappan also requested the Governmen to introduce Safeguard Duty on NR imports for a period of three years post removal of NR import suspension which he said will give additional time for the domestic NR Industry to recover from the damage caused by imports and enable the growing sector to stand on its feet.
Stating that NR import has increased, in absolute terms, from 77,762 tonne in 2008-09 to 5,82,351 tonne during 2018-19, he said that import as a percentage of production had increased from nine per cent in 2008-09 to 89.5 per cent in 2018-19, while Imports as a percentage of consumption increased from 8.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent during the corresponding period.
Four countries Indonesia (42.2 per cent), Vietnam (19.7, Malaysia (10.7 and Thailand (9.8) together account for 82.4 per cent of the total imports during 2018-19 and these NR import facts provide a very strong case for imposing Safeguard Duty by the Government, suo motto.
Given the magnitude of crisis it has become extremely important on the part of Government to take a bold decision in declaring moratorium on NR imports to protect the domestic NR sector which provides livelihood to 1.3 million growers, to maintain the self-reliance in this strategic raw material and also prevent the foreign exchange outgo which was Rs.6127.7 Crore in the year 2018-19, Nagappan said.