The Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) sees more potential for the country’s rubber industry especially for the manufacturing and processing of rubber-based products including condom, gloves and other medical accessories.
About 70 percent of natural rubber produced in the country go to tire manufacturing.
The Philippines does not have its own condom manufacturing facility and currently imports from Malaysia and Thailand.
Rudy Galang, PRRI interim executive director, said a processing plant for latex is needed to be able to produce condoms, medical and household gloves, catheters and other rubber-based medical products.
Galang said PRRI is currently surveying latex technologies from Malaysia, China and Europe as part of its future plans for the rubber industry in the Philippines.
“We have a draft roadmap scoping the years 2016 to 2021 and we are working it out with the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). We aim to increase production by 2030 to around 400,000 hectares (ha) and produce 390,000 metric tons (MT) from the 2016 level,” he said.
PRRI also noted that the local rubber industry is underdeveloped compared to other countries in Asia such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
“We have more production than Sri Lanka but their industry is more developed, they do not sell raw rubber. Their manufacturing industries buy raw materials outside Sri Lanka… In Thailand, they promote rubberized roads, they are mixing rubber with asphalt… Vietnam has 1 million (hectares) of rubber trees, right now we only have 112,000 hectares,” Galang explained.
One company, Finnish firm Black Donuts Engineering Inc., announced plans to invest $200 million for a 50-ha rubber manufacturing plant for tires with an annual capacity four million in the areas around Cotabato and Davao.
The Philippines produces around 110,000 metric tons (MT) of rubber each year but consumes just 30,000 MT. The remaining 80,000 MT is exported as processed rubber or in raw form.
At present, the Philippines exports rubber to Malaysia, China, South Korea and Japan.
PRRI said as of last year, the total land area planted with rubber trees stood at 220,000 ha but majority are young trees which are not yet productive. There are 25 processing/manufacturing plants using rubber, most of them for tires.
Galang also said that the local rubber industry is valued at around P11.6 billion at current prices of $2.11 per kilograms of rubber.