ERJ staff report (TP)
Bangkok − Despite high hopes that Thailand’s Rubber City project will add value to the rubber industry, the lack of a clear direction could hinder its progress, reported The Bangkok Post.
Kangsadarn Pongsawat, director of the Southern Industrial Estate in Songkhla, said it has yet to be decided whether the project will be an industrial estate or a research centre.
"It is still under consideration. It will become clearer when the project is more developed," she said.
At present, what the Rubber City project will become is theoretical, as it is in the detail design phase, Pongsawat said.
Under the original plan, Rubber City will be located in the third phase of the Southern Industrial Estate with a total area of approximately 755 rai (1.2m sq metres) for its industrial area and 189 rai (302,400 sq metres) for basic utilities.
Interim Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk is pushing for a 2015 completion, but Pongsawat said the project is currently in the detailed design process so the original 2017 completion will likely be the case.
Targeted rubber output includes rubber gloves, condoms, automobile tires, rubber hoses and furniture from rubber trees.
Nattapon Nattasomboon, director-general of the Industrial Works Department, said the Rubber City project is critical for boosting industry competitiveness.
"Rubber City needs to happen, as Thailand exports more than 90 percent of domestic raw rubber annually. If the country does not support mid- and downstream rubber manufacturing, it will continue to be affected by global rubber prices," said Nattasomboon.
A PTT (a Thai state-owned company) gas pipeline is proposed for the estate, but its existence depends on the reception of Rubber City by the industry and a return of investment.
"Energy costs for industry in Thailand are disadvantageous compared with Malaysia, but the pipeline could help to reduce operating costs and attract more companies to the industrial estate and Rubber City," said Nattasomboon.
Once completed, Rubber City will have the potential to create 20,000 tonnes in additional demand of raw rubber per year and generate industrial investment of 4.3bn baht (€97.2m), Pongsawat added.
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Full story from The Bangkok Post