Natural rubber (NR) production in India dropped 16 per cent in February. The tyre industry, which consumes nearly 70 per cent of the produce, has urged the government to relax import curbs.
Rubber Board data shows NR production in February at 52,000 tonnes, as against 62,000 tonnes in 2017. NR consumption in India crossed a million tonnes (1,003,060 tonnes) in the first 11 months of 2017-18, a first. Production was 640,000 tonnes in the period, leaving a consumption gap of 360,000 tonnes.
The tyre industry said a lean production period had already started, to last till September.
This will add to the industry’s problems.
Rubber Board officials were not available for comment.
The industry has put in significant production capacities to meet growing demand from the automobile industry and the transportation and mining sectors. “However, production planning is undermined as domestic availability of NR is in short supply. As much as 35 per cent of the requirement needs to be imported,” said Rajiv Budhraja, director general of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association.
Domestic availability is in short supply despite average domestic NR prices ruling 11 per cent higher than international prices during the year. NR export has come to a halt and the entire domestic production is being taken by the industry. India levies the highest import duties on NR in the world, at close to 30 per cent, another complaint from the industry.
They want duty-free import, equivalent to the projected domestic deficit.
“The industry also wants removal of restrictions to import only at Chennai and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Terminal (Navi Mumbai),” said Budhraja.