“We Support Ban on Exportation of Unprocessed Rubber” -Rubber Planters, back Executive order #124

MONROVIA: Members of the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia who met at their 8th Natinal Congress held at the National Headquarters of the entity in Cooper Farm, Todee District, Montserrado County have unanimously reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the Moratorium on the Exportation of the unprocessed rubber and urged the government to sustain the Executive Order 124 signed by former President George Manneh Weah.

The group indicated that allowing unprocessed Export of natural rubber will undermine Liberia’s quota and participation in the Association of Natural Rubber-Producing Countries ANRPCI and the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPNSR) and noted that the unrestricted export of unprocessed rubber supersedes the sector’s productivity. For more than five (5) years the sector has not exported more than 250,000 metric tons of processed rubber. It was envisaged by 2020 that producers would hit 350,000 metric tons of rubber.

The Rubber Planters Association of Liberia says it strongly supports  the Government’s imposition of a temporary ban on the exportation of unprocessed rubber as part of its efforts to improve the rubber industry in the country, noting that  it therefore offers more benefits to the country of Liberia because its value addition to natural rubber that could generate higher profits, decrease the unemployment rate for the country’s citizens, and contribute to income generation for the poor population.

Accordingly, the Rubber Planters’ Association of Liberia indicates that they have officially signed a resolution to this effect in which the association decries the high wave of theft on plantations, the high cost to retain security and loss in daily production,, pointing out that the association strongly supports the moratorium on the Exportation of Unprocessed Natural Rubber by the Government of Liberia and has discovered that the traceability of rubber sales is unknown.

The statement of the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia (RPAL) was in response to the Government of Liberia Executive Order No. 124 issued on November 23, 2023, which imposed a temporary ban on the exportation of unprocessed rubber as part of its efforts to improve the rubber industry in the country so that it offers more benefits to the country.

The Association also called on the GOL to legislate laws on the ban of the Exportation of Unprocessed Natural, adding that Rubber to have value addition for manufacturing.

“That the legislation will significantly impact the regulation of the rubber sector thus resulting in the establishment of rubber processing plants in the country,” the RPAL recommended, and noted that in this vein, the Liberia Rubber Industry will reach its full potential as the Global Platform of Sustainable Natural Rubber.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Rubber Planters’ Association indicated that the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber from Liberia undermines the nation’s GDP, and pointed out that the commodity ends in the hands of buyers Nigeria or other countries in the sub region, which process the commodity and export the same.

“The so-called consortium of rubber actors are non-farmers or no producers but middlemen that have been used by the exporters who withhold subscription fees from farmers without remittance to the RPAL and Rubber Development Fund Incorporated, RDFI,” the statement said.

The Association mentioned that the government of Cote D’ Ivoire has legislated a ban on the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber including Ghana increasing export earnings, noting that unless value addition is upheld, promoted, and sustained the sector risk declines, petitioning the Legislature to enact a law to prohibit the export of unprocessed natural rubber.

On its economic importance, RPAL says agriculture, including forestry, is the primary livelihood for more than 60 percent of Liberia’s population and accounted for 31 percent of Liberia’s 2021 real gross domestic product (GDP), in which Rubber is a dominant revenue generator, accounting for 12.5 percent of total Export receipts in 2021.

“Note that 16% of the revenue of Liberia various estimates put the number of people employed by commercial rubber farms at 20,000 and the number of smallholder households involved in growing rubber trees at 35,000,” the association noted, adding that Liberia Key Agriculture & Forestry Sector Output, 2019-2021 states that 87,777 MT was produced and exported.

The Statement itemized a five-point problem statement, saying globally, importing and exporting raw materials can influence the GDP, its exchange rate, and its level of inflation and interest rate. In the rubber sector of Liberia, many smallholder farmers face problems or challenges with the drop-down of rubber prices with the prices of raw materials always depreciating because of no value, whereas the price of finished rubber is better.

The Association furthered that 2.16% of the revenue of Liberia is generated from the rubber industry and the exportation of Unprocessed Natural Rubber undermines value addition, diminishes revenue adversely impacts the economy;  adding that  it has been observed that some unscrupulous group of the industry is bending on the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber, withholding 4% of GOL Tax Rubber Development Funds and subscription fees of the Rubber Planters Association of Liberia without remitting same, this unfair business has increased theft on local rubber farms and plantations of late.

Besides, the Rubber Planters’ Association mentioned that as a result of the foregoing, additional cost on security employment is high, loss in income for rubber planters, and hardships have been incurred; finally, stating that loss in needed revenues, and traceability of the commodity is threatened, and theft is increasing on local farms and plantations.

“The cost to maintain security is high and increases production loss. PAL has noticed that unrestricted purchase and legitimate funds for the sector have been evaded by some exporters of the industry leaning on political affiliation,” the Association added.

Meanwhile, the RPAL said Compared to Liberia, neighboring Ivory Coast which have over a dozen of rubber factories imposed ban on the export of unprocessed rubber on November 21, 2023 as a means of protecting the local domestic companies who rely on these locally produce rubber latex for protection to stay in business.

At their press conference on Tuesday, February 27, RPAL cited Article 5 of the Liberian Constitution regarding safeguarding the economy and sustaining value addition as critical points in supporting the government’s decision to ban unprocessed rubber exports.

Additionally, the group said allowing the unprocessed export of natural rubber will undermine Liberia’s quota and participation in the Association of Natural Rubber-Producing Countries (ANRPCI) and the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPNSR).

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