* Imports to fall by a third to 200,000 T
* Production seen rising 12 pct to record 950,000T
* Consumption seen rising 4 pct to 1.01 mln T
(Adds quotes, details)
By Rajendra Jadhav
KOCHI, India, Feb 20 India's imports of natural
rubber are expected to fall by third in 2014/15 to about 200,000
tonnes, as tapping of newly planted trees likely boosts domestic
production to a record high, a senior government official told
A drop in imports by India, the world's fourth biggest
producer, would put pressure on global prices that are sitting
not far off multi-year lows.
"Trees planted in non-traditional growing areas are becoming
ready for tapping. If weather remains normal, next year
production can rise to 950,000 tonnes," Sheela Thomas, chairman
of the Rubber Board said on Thursday on the sidelines of the
India Rubber Meet. This would top 913,700 tonnes in 2012/13.
India's natural rubber imports are estimated to surge 38
percent in the current 2013/14 year to 300,000 tonnes after
production was disrupted by heavy rainfall during the June to
September monsoon months.
The country's production in the first ten months of the
2013/14 April to March financial year fell by 9.4 percent from a
year ago period to 723,000 tonnes, despite a 2.8 percent rise in
tapping area, data compiled by the Board showed.
A sharp drop in rubber prices also contributed to squeezing
production as some farmers curtailed tapping, Thomas said.
The spot price of the most-traded RSS-4 rubber (ribbed,
smoked sheet) at India's Kottayam market fell to 14,200 rupees
per 100 kg last month, the lowest level in nearly three years.
Indonesia's SIR20, usually the cheapest grade in Southeast
Asia, was traded earlier this month at 85.00 to 85.50 U.S. cents
a pound ($1.87 to $1.88 a kg) for March/April delivery. The
grade was last traded at similar prices in 2009.
India's consumption of natural rubber is expected to be flat
in 2013/14 due to a slowdown in the domestic auto industry,
denting demand for natural rubber from tyre makers, Thomas said,
although demand is slowly improving.
In 2014/15 demand for natural rubber could rise to 1.01
million tonnes, up 4.1 percent from the 970,000 tonnes estimated
for the current year, she said.
Car sales in India fell 7.6 percent in January, the fourth
straight month of decline, according to figures released by the
Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), in a market
set to fall for the second straight year.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, in his interim budget,
proposed reducing the excise duty on small cars, two-wheelers
and commercial vehicles to 8 percent from 12 percent.
"The changes in excise duty can improve auto sales. Revival
in truck and bus sales is crucial for natural rubber demand,"
(Editing by Richard Pullin)