The Philippine Department of Trade and Investment (DTI) aims to position Mindanao as the country’s rubber product manufacturing hub. Mindanao currently supplies 99% of the country’s national rubber production.
DTI Region 9 director and national coordinator for the rubber industry cluster Dr Sitti Amina M Jain says it is time for rubber producers in Mindanao to venture into manufacturing.
“We are now shifting our priority to positioning Mindanao as the manufactur- ing hub for rubber products. All the six regions in Mindanao are rubber-producing regions, so we are offering the opportunity for manufacturing first to our businesspeople in Mindanao. Our vision is for the local businesspeople in Mindanao to lead in investing in rubber product manufacturing before others come,” Jain said during an interview with local press.
She notes that one of the areas being focused on is the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport (Zamboanga Ecozone).
Zamboanga Peninsula is the country’s number one rubber-producing region translating into almost 40% of the total natural rubber production. As result, the DTI is looking at Zamboanga Ecozone as a good destination for rubber product manufacturing, owing to the incentives that it can present potential investors with. “We are also promoting Zamboanga Sibugay as the biggest rubber producer in Region 9,” Jain said.
She stresses that, through manufacturing, the rubber industry will further contribute to the nation’s economy and help in addressing some of the country’s perennial problems.
“Last year, we were a net importer of rubber products, which means we are importing more rubber products than we produce. For example, the country imports 100% of surgical and household gloves. We don’t produce them. If we can only have it produced it here, it would benefit us more in terms of employment and taxes that will, in turn, provide additional funds for infrastructure and social services,” she added.
She further explains that there is only one car tyre manufacturer in the country, which is Yokohama Tire Philippines, and two motor- cycle tyre manufacturers. The DTI’s aims to encourage more people to go into motorcycle tyre manufacturing in Mindanao. Jain claims that the government aims for local rubber producers to venture into manufacturing and that, by the year 2030, the Philippines will be able to position rubber products in the world market.
“The DTI, together with our partner agencies and the private sector will continue to advocate [the processing of] our own raw materials. This applies not just to rubber but to all our products,” Jain concluded.