BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) has declared natural rubber (NR) a "critical raw material," meaning the EU recognizes the need "to ensure the secure, sustainable and affordable supply [of NR] for the EU manufacturing industry."
NR was the only biotic raw material among the 27 out of 61 candidate materials to pass the EU listing assessment, according to the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA).
"Natural rubber will receive proper political attention and consequent support when dealing with issues related to the supply of natural rubber," Fazilet Cinaralp, secretary general of the ETRMA, said.
Inclusion of NR on the list, she said, could help strengthen the competitiveness of the rubber industry and stimulate the production of natural rubber, including beyond traditional producing countries.
Moreover, Ms. Cinaralp said, the "critical status" could "increase awareness of potential raw material supply risks and support the efforts of [the] European Commission when negotiating trade agreements, in order to challenge potential trade distortion measures"
Inclusion in the listing, adopted Sept. 13 as part of EU strategy, is valid for three years.
The Raw Materials Initiative was put forward in 2008 to tackle the challenges related to the access to raw materials, the EU said. The EU Commission uses the list as a "supporting element" when negotiating trade agreements, challenging trade-distortive measures and developing research and innovation actions, as well as in implementing the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.
The EU identifies Thailand as the world's No. 1 producer of NR at 32 percent of global supply, followed by Indonesia (26 percent), Vietnam and India (8 percent each). It also notes that Indonesia is the largest source of NR for European users, at 32 percent of consumption, followed by Malaysia (20 percent), Thailand (17 percent) and Ivory Coast (12 percent).