Mindanao eyed as manufacturing hub of rubber products

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/02 November) – The scheduled two-day Philippine Rubber Investment and Market Encounter (PRIME) 2015 on Nov. 10 and 11 in Davao City aims to position Mindanao as the rubber product manufacturing hub since the region supplies 99 percent of the country’s natural rubber production.

Dr. Sitti Amina Jain, Department of Trade and Industry regional director, made this announcement Monday citing it was high time for rubber producers in Mindanao to venture into manufacturing.

Jain, who is also the national coordinator for rubber industry cluster, said “we are now shifting our priority” to position Mindanao as the manufacturing hub since all of Mindanao’s six regions are rubber-producing areas.

“Our vision is for the local businessmen in Mindanao to lead in investing in rubber product manufacturing before others will come,” Jain said.

She said one of the areas being eyed as manufacturing hub is the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport or Zamboecozone.

“Zamboanga Peninsula is the country’s number one rubber producing region translating to almost 40 percent of the total natural rubber production. We are looking at Zamboecozone as a good destination for rubber product manufacturing because they have incentives that we can dangle to our potential investors,” she said.

She said they are also promoting the province of Zamboanga Sibugay being the biggest rubber producer in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Arnold Yap, DTI’s regional rubber industry focal person, said 2014 records showed that Region 9 has an area of 86,452 hectares planted to rubber with a production of 191,610 metric tons.

Yap said 70,205 of the 86,452 hectares planted to rubber are located in Zamboanga Sibugay. The province’ rubber production is 143,084.22 MT.

Jain stressed the rubber industry, through manufacturing, could further contribute to the nation’s economy.

She said there is only one car tire manufacturer in the country, the Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc., and two motorcycle tire manufacturers.

“If we can encourage more to go into motorcycle tire manufacturing in Mindanao, it would be very beneficial for Mindanao, and this is what we intend to do in the conduct of PRIME 2015,” she said.

She said the government’s vision for the rubber industry is “for local producers to venture into manufacturing so that by 2030 the Philippines will be able to position rubber products in the world market.”

PRIME 2015 is expected to gather 750 rubber industry players from nine regions in the country, all six regions in Mindanao, two from Luzon, namely Regions 4A and 4B, and Region VII or Central Visayas.

As of last week, Jain said 650 participants had signified their intent to attend the gathering.

“We are inviting buyers, producers, and manufacturers because there will be business and market matching,” she said.

She said they invited seven international speakers who are all experts in the field of rubber industry. They include Sheela Thomas, secretary general of Kuala Lumpur-based Association of Natural Rubber Producing Counties; Dr. Dar Wong, one of Singapore’s best consultants; and Dr. Abdel Aziz Kabir, secretary general of International Rubber Research and Development Board. (MindaNews)