A project aimed at ensuring a steady supply of natural rubber and adequate returns for planters is in the works.
The International Rubber Study Group is floating the idea for a ``Rubber Eco-Project.'' The goal is to get the entire industry-growers, traders, shippers and product manufacturers-working together toward their common future, according to IRSG Secretary-General Hidde Smit.
Signatory nations will agree to a series of mutual economic, social and environmental criteria, he said. They also will adhere to a code to increase confidence in the NR industry that implicitly recognizes the important ecological and environmental benefits of NR.
Centering the project would be a Sustainable Rubber Eco Foundation, overseen by a stakeholder board consisting of representatives from IRSG member nations and all aspects of the industry.
``The beauty of the idea is that we won't intrude in the market,'' Smit said. The idea was first presented at the IRSG Sri Lanka meeting, with a follow-up meeting in Singapore the week of June 22, he said. The Thai government is the major moving spirit behind the Eco-Project.
Thailand is a member of the tripartite organization-with Malaysia and Indonesia-that is trying to restrict NR production to control prices. Given Thailand's support and the current market situation, however, Smit said he doubts the organization would attempt to obstruct the Eco-Project.
``I think the consortium could play a very useful role,'' he said.
An international commodity agreement of NR producing and consuming nations existed for 20 years until 1999. The pact was aimed at controlling price and supply via stockpiling.