Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) -
Vietnam's rubber exports fell in May due to China’s changing policies and fears over the US-China trade war, a representative of the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) has said.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in May, rubber exports reached 80,000 tonnes, worth 116 million USD, up 6 percent in volume and 7 percent in value compared with April. However, those figures were down 26.5 percent in volume and 26.2 percent in value year-on-year.

Fortunately, in the first five months of the year, rubber exports reached 495,000 tonnes, worth 673 million USD, up nearly 12 percent in volume and 4 percent in value year on year.

The reduction in May’s export value was due to China’s increase of import tariffs for mixture rubber to 10 percent, said Duong Tuan Anh, deputy head of VRG’s Market Department.

Mixture rubber shipped to China made up half of rubber export volume from Vietnam in the first four months of this year.

The trade war was also encouraging manufacturers and traders to be cautious over the movements of the global rubber market, especially with the G20 conference in Japan coming at the end of June, he said.

The prolonged trade war would affect agricultural exports and rubber exports in particular because China is the largest export market of Vietnam’s rubber, accounting for more than 60 percent of total rubber exports, he said.

Meanwhile, the US increased taxes from 10 percent to 25 percent for some rubber products imported from China, including rubber latex, conveyor belts, pneumatic tires, gloves and gaskets from May 10. The China Automobile Manufacturers Association said the US tax policy could have a big impact on the country's auto parts exports. That could lead to reduction in rubber imports from Vietnam for production of auto parts.

However, the trade war could attract investment to Vietnam’s rubber industry as firms moved rubber product factories from China to Vietnam to avoid the US tariffs, he said. 

Besides those factors, the prolonged hot weather in Vietnam, Thailand and China had slowed rubber output, especially in May - the first month of the new harvest season.

However, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC), in 2019, supply of rubber would continue to exceed demand with supply of 14.5 million tonnes, including an inventory of 2.9 million tonnes from 2018, with demand of 14.4 million tonnes, Anh said.

He noted that the Vietnam Rubber Group had managed nearly 420,000 hectares of rubber in three countries, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with total annual consumption of about 400,000 tonnes.-VNS/VNA