Japan will begin buying rubber from Myanmar producers next month if it meets the quality standards required by its market, according to the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association.
Khine Myint, the association’s secretary, said Japanese buyers had been analysing the quality of rubber produced in Myanmar since last year, in preparation for imports. Japanese experts have also provided technical advice to rubber plantations, he said.
The association also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Rubber Trade Association of Japan last November, which drew Japanese experts to Myanmar to share technical knowledge.
“Japanese exerts came and collected rubber samples last year and analysed them,” Khine Myint said, adding that they helped some plantations upgrade the quality of their rubber.
Japan’s consumes more than 700,000 tonnes of rubber annually, with its tyre makers – including Bridgestone and Yokohama – among the top buyers. It imports a higher quality of rubber than Myanmar traditionally produces, according to buyers in Japan.
“The quality of raw rubber in Myanmar needs to be improved to be able to export to Japan,” Yoshio Kanai, a member of Japan’s Rubber Trade Association, said in July.
According to last November’s MoU, Japanese buyers are looking to forge long-term contracts with Myanmar producers.
Currently, the main buyers of Myanmar rubber are in China.
Local and international rubber prices are, however, declining this year, leaving small-scale producers in Myanmar – who produce 90 per cent of the product – operating at a loss, industry executives say.