Indian tyre firms seek import of 4.7 lakh tonnes of duty-free rubber

Tyre companies in India have raised their voice again for duty-waived natural rubber import, quoting latest data on production projections from Rubber Board of India.

They have sought zero-duty imports equivalent to the projected domestic deficit in natural rubber.

Natural rubber production-consumption gap estimated for the current fiscal touched 4.7 lakh stonne as per the Rubber Board data. This is a historic high, says the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA).

Urgent measures to make natural rubber available to the industry are warranted, making imports easier, the ATMA has demanded in a letter to the ministry of commerce.

According to ATMA, from a shortfall of 60,000 tonne in 2011-12, the gap ballooned to 4. 1 lakh tonne in the last fiscal, which is projected to further grow to 4.7 lakh tonne in the current fiscal. “Domestic natural rubber production is projected to be 40 per cent short of domestic requirement during the current financial year. Such levels of shortfall are a matter of grave concern for the industry,” Rajiv Budhraja, director general, ATMA, wrote in the communique to the ministry.

Meanwhile, natural rubber production in India dropped by 16 per cent to 52,000 tonnes in February 2018 as against 62,000 tonnes in the same month last year, the state run Rubber Board said in its latest report.

Natural Rubber consumption in India crossed a million tonnes (1,003,060 tonnes) in the first 11 months of 2017-18, a first. Production was 640,000 tonnes in the period, leaving a consumption gap of 360,000 tonnes.

Domestic availability is in short supply despite average domestic rubber prices ruling 11 per cent higher than international prices during the year. Natural Rubber export has come to a halt and the entire domestic production is being taken by the industry. India levies the highest import duties on natural rubber in the world, at close to 30 per cent.

The tyre industry has also urged the government to remove restrictions to import only at Chennai and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Terminal (Navi Mumbai).

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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