The Global Rubber Conference 2012 opened in HCM City on November 30 with delegates aiming to get a better handle on current trends and future challenges facing the industry.

Phan Thi Thanh Minh, chief representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the southern region, said the event offered an opportunity for everyone in the rubber industry to discuss commercial prospects and opportunities and have a better idea on the market pricing of rubber.

The two-day conference brings together both regulatory authorities and commercial players looking to exchange ideas and information, as also take advantage of networking opportunities.

It also means to deliver latest applications from global research and development programmes through a well-designed sponsorship programme and an exhibition.

Tran Ngoc Thuan, chairman of the Vietnam Rubber Association, said the conference will support the growth of the rubbery industry by delivering objective and accurate information to delegates.

He noted that Vietnam is the world's fifth largest producer and fourth largest exporter of natural rubber after Thailand , Indonesia and Malaysia .

In 2012, the area of rubber cultivation in Vietnam is expected to reach 850,000ha, accounting for 7 percent of the world's total. Vietnam 's rubber export is set to cross 1 million tonnes by the end of this year and the country is likely to become the third largest exporter of natural rubber in the world, Thuan noted.

He said the Vietnamese Government has approved and pledged support for a plan to develop the rubber industry sustainably in the coming years.

Under the plan, Vietnam will maintain an area of 800,000ha for rubber cultivation and an output of 1.2 million of tonnes of natural rubber every year. Thirty percent of the output will be used by the local processing industry and the rest will be exported, Thuan said. More than 300 delegates from 25 countries and territories are attending the annual conference.-VNA