Country Profile - Thailand
Throughout the last decade, Thailand has become the largest natural rubber producer and exporter in the world. The south, starting in Chumpon Province (about 500 km south of Bangkok) and continuing to the border with Malaysia, is the heart of rubber production in Thailand, with smaller crops grown in the Eastern and Northeastern regions. Thailand produced 2.065 millions tons of rubber in 1998, exporting 1.84 million tons of the yield earning US$ 1.46 billion. The leading export markets for Thai rubber are Japan, the USA, China, Malaysia and South Korea. Rubber plantations in Thailand are dominated by the small-holding sector, characterized as production cultivated from four hectares or less.
Tire and tube manufacturers are the largest users of natural rubber in the country, accounting for 47 percent of domestic rubber consumption. Other large manufacturing industries make rubber gloves, condoms, balloons, auto parts, cushions and elastic bands.
Plans are underway to further expand the rubber industry into the northeast of Thailand. Small farmers are being offered incentives and guidance to help them improve the quality of the rubber, and shift towards production of rubber blocks and concentrate. Thailand is under pressure to maintain rubber as an important part of its economy and needs to upgrade the production technology to meet market trends, and further develop supporting industries to add value and maximize the resource’s benefit to the country.