28 July 1998
Thai withdrawal threat to INRO

THAILAND is likely to withdraw from the International Natural Rubber Organisation (INRO), a move which would threaten the survival of the worlds last remaining international commodity agreement.

INRO operates a buffer stock of some 30,000 tonnes. It would be dealt a fatal blow by Thailands departure. Thailand is the worlds largest producer of natural rubber, with up to 2.2 million tonnes forecast for 1998 or more than 30% of total world production.

Malaysia said it was reviewing its membership, but its departure would be less damaging because it now produces substantially less – just 580,000 tonnes last year.

Thailand will make a decision about its INRO membership in late August at a meeting of the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries.

Thailand and others are upset by INROs failure to intervene in the market to support prices, now just 70¢/lb (93p/kg), against $1/lb a year ago.

  • Financial Times 28/07/98 page 30 (News Digest)