JAKARTA, Indonesia (Oct. 2, 2001)—Rubber traders report little disruption of natural rubber shipments or pricing from Indonesia so far, despite the rise of political unrest and anti-American sentiment there.
Even as Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri gave the Bush administration her assurances of Indonesia's support in the fight against terrorism, between 1,000 and 3,000 hard-line Muslims demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, according to the BBC and the Jakarta Post. Burning U.S. flags and an effigy of President Bush during the Sept. 27 incident, demonstrators called for a holy war against the U.S. if it dared to attack Afghanistan.
Osama bin Laden, the probable mastermind behind terrorist attacks on U.S. targets that left an estimated 7,000 dead, is hiding in Afghanistan under the protection of Afghanistan's Taliban government.
That same day, the U.S. authorized the voluntary evacuation of non-essential embassy personnel, and the State Department issued an advisory warning U.S. citizens not to travel to Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.
Companies such as athletic shoe manufacturer Nike Inc. has started to evacuate family members of its American workers in Indonesia, according to Reuters.
Natural rubber operations in Indonesia, however, have not been affected to date, according to Kip Tobin, president of Centrotrade Rubber USA in Akron and of the Rubber Trade Association of North America.
“We have not heard of a single instance yet of a delayed shipment” of natural rubber in Indonesia, Mr. Tobin said. Part of the reason, he said, might be that Indonesia's NR industry is centered on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, far from Java where Jakarta is located.
About the only effect the rubber market has noted is a softening in the value of the Indonesian rupiah, Mr. Tobin said. The rupiah, whose value has been unstable over the past several years, sank slightly below 10,000 to the U.S. dollar on Oct. 2.
Meanwhile, the price of Standard Indonesian Rubber 20—the staple variety of rubber for U.S. tire makers—was 27 cents per pound delivered to the U.S. on Oct. 2. That price has held more or less steady since the week of Sept. 24, according to Mr. Tobin.