BANGKOK (Oct. 28, 2013) — After a year of discussions, the governments of Thailand and Malaysia have agreed to cooperate on a "Rubber City" project designed to promote the natural rubber (NR) industries of both countries and increase NR prices.
News reports in early October had Thai Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisam announcing the agreement after talks with Mustapa bin Mohamed, Malaysian international trade and industry minister.
According to an April 2013 press release from Thailand's Government Public Relations Department, the "Rubber City" will be set up in Thailand's Songkhia Province near the Malaysian border.
"Thailand will provide latex of good quality and other raw materials for the Rubber City," the release said. "Malaysia, which needs 30,000 workers from southern Thailand, would benefit from labor at this rubber-processing industrial estate."
Malaysia in turn would provide low-cost energy and production technology expertise to the project, the release said. Representatives from both countries said the project would improve the living conditions of workers in both Thailand and Malaysia, and pledged to offer tax incentives to all entrepreneurs that operate in the Rubber City.
Thailand has 6.8 million acres of land planted in rubber trees, according to the release, but sought higher production to meet growing demand from the country's burgeoning automotive industry. Thailand produces between 3.1 million and 3.6 million metric tons of natural rubber annually, of which 83 to 88 percent is exported, the release said.