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World Rubber Week draws a global crowd

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World Rubber Week, consisting of the World Rubber Summit, Tyrexpo Asia and Rubber Exchange Forum, ended March 26, 2015, after three days at Singapore Expo. The summit attracted more than 5,000 rubber industry players from 109 countries.

“Asia is the focal point of the world’s rubber industry, which is at a crossroads today," said Aloysius Arlando, CEO of SingEx Holdings. World Rubber Week 2015 was organized by SingEx Exhibitions, in partnership with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) and Singapore Exchange (SGX).

"We are pleased to be working with our partners – IE Singapore, IRSG & SGX – to offer a holistic platform that gives participants and the visitors a multi-dimensional perspective of the entire value chain."

“We found the World Rubber Week extremely relevant to our business given our specific focus on the tire and rubber industry," said Pete Kelly, managing director of LMC Automotive. "We see the event as a great platform to get more exposure for LMC Automotive and make those critical connections with potential customers and partners from around the region."

Positive outlook for the rubber industry

According to the IRSG, world total rubber demand is forecast to increase at 1.8% and 4.1% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The global demand for natural rubber is expected to increase by 3.1% in 2015 under the IMF Scenario, and by 4.4% in 2016. World synthetic rubber demand is expected to increase to 16.8 million metric tons in 2015 and rise to 17.5 million metric tons in 2016 under the IMF Scenario.

Sunam Sarkar, president and chief business officer of Apollo Tyres, said, “The World Rubber Summit is a great forum to meet all relevant stakeholders in the industry, and hear their perspectives on key trends and issues. One key take-away is how we can and must leverage innovations in sustainability and technology to drive the rubber industry to greater heights in the future.”

The road ahead for the global tyre industry

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. CEO Richard Kramer discussed how the newest generation of consumers, the Millennials, is changing the landscape for the tire industry.

“They have the leverage, and are buying what they want, when they want, and how they want,” Kramer said. “Millennial consumers are not going to adapt to us and the way we’ve sold tires for the past 100 years. We have to become a fast moving, consumer-driven, technology savvy industry. We have to do more than sell tires. We have to sell a convenient and frictionless experience with our product and make the tire buying process easier.”

Asia continued to be the region to focus on for the tire industry. Out of the world’s top 75 global tire makers today, 49 are from Asia. Owing to the growing population of vehicle fleet, with China representing the strongest growth at almost 9% per annum, the demand for rubber in Asia from the tire market is enormous. For many tire players, Tyrexpo Asia is the ideal platform for tire manufacturers to showcase their wares.

"Stamford Tyres is a Singapore brand and Tyrexpo Asia is our home-show, and probably the most important one in the season for us," said Pat Berrimen, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Stamford Tyres International. "It gives us an opportunity to reinforce our relationship with existing customers by showing them our headquarters and operations here. At the same time, we've had a few new leads from other parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It's a great place to showcase the new designs and products our Thai factory has come up with to customers old and new."

Arvind Poddar, chairman and managing director of Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), said, “Tyrexpo Asia is the right event to meet all our Asia Pacific customers in one place. It provides the ideal platform to showcase our new products developed for this region. This year we were very pleased to unveil our largest OTR all-steel radial tyre, the 27.00 R49, and the response has been very positive."

Paving the way for a regional trading hub in Asia

The Rubber Exchange Forum, a workshop on the educational and technical aspects of rubber trading, covered an overview of the history of the rubber market in Asia, an introduction to rubber futures contracts and a perspective on trading rubber futures.

The speakers highlighted that two rubber futures (RSS3 and TSR20) offered on the Singapore Exchange provide market participants with a reliable pricing basis as a point of reference for their physical cargo and to manage price risks. Delegates also learned what trade finance is in the banking world, how it works, how it applies to the rubber industry, and the requirements and responsibilities that go with it.

Tom James of the Renovatio commodity and energy hedge fund, said, “The Rubber Exchange Forum has attracted a large crowd, which clearly shows that there is a lot of interest in the market developments.

"There are exciting new developments in the Asian rubber market today, including the potential development of Singapore as a regional production neutral trading hub, plus the first signs of the opening up of the China commodity futures market to international traders via Shanghai free zone. The opening up of the China market will be a big positive for the Singapore trading hub due to increased arbitrage trading activity being made possible for more market participants.”

The next edition of World Rubber Week will be held in 2017. For more information, visit www.worldrubberweek.com.

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