Malaysia-based Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC), together with the member countries association (AMC), recently issued a joint statement expressing its concern on the implementation of the EU Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR), which it says has the possibility to create unnecessary barriers to trade and may lead to “catastrophic outcome” to the NR global supply chain disruption, especially for smallholders.
ANRPC says that in principle it supports any activity that promotes sustainability and protects natural resources “in a fair, clear, and sustainable manner, without creating unnecessary trade barriers and harm to the local community”.
“We highlight the role of NR as an essential raw material that is used in the creation of many products and contributes to the economic, social, and environmental well-being of all stakeholders, including farmers/smallholders, communities, and the planet,” it said.
NR production for smallholders holds the potential to propel the industry closer to the achievement of the targets set by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly the call for no poverty (SDG 1), zero hunger (SDG 2), gender equality (SDG5), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), climate action (SDG 13) and life on land (SDG15).
“Rubber plantations, as assessed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), constitute a distinct form of forest that seamlessly integrates commercial and ecological aspects. These plantations contribute to biodiversity conservation and local livelihoods. Their integration into landscapes promotes responsible land use and supports rural economies, aligning with our collective vision of sustainable development,” said the association,
At the same time, the AMC have an ongoing sustainability program and is in the process of creating a comprehensive guideline relating to Sustainable Natural Rubber (SNR). In tandem with this endeavour, ANRPC is fostering collaborative partnerships with relevant parties to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and dissemination of best practices to promote SNR.
Most rubber smallholders have been suffering from low NR prices for more than a decade which in most of the time NR were traded below cost of production, plant pests and diseases, climate change and more, and will now face a new potential challenge from the implementation of the EU Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR), as they will be required to comply with some administrative procedures, such as due diligence and risk assessment mechanisms.
ANRPC says it will continue to enhance collaboration within the AMC together with the relevant international parties in ensuring both production cost and sustainability factors are integral to the rubber trade.
“We reiterate that trade policies should align with the rules and regulations set out in the multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core. Trade policies should also promote an inclusive, equitable, transparent, non-discriminatory, and mutually supportive approach to environmental policies, extending their scope beyond the interactions between factories and operators. They should aim to deliver advantages to farmers, who are fundamental stakeholders within the trade ecosystem,” said the association.
It also urged the EU to look further into the role of the NR sector, its invaluable role in sustainable development, and responsible regulation. “By acknowledging rubber as a forest tree, the EU can facilitate creating regulations that ensure the continued availability of NR while upholding the balance factors of SDGs’ economic, social, and environmental pillars, to fulfil the whole concept of sustainability.”
It also requests the EU establish practical approaches and measures to ensure the smallholders’ inclusivity in the supply chain in line with the spirit of “leaving no one behind” of the United Nations SDGs and minimise the risk of smallholders’ exclusion in the EU market.
“We are making a collective effort to call upon EU authorities to acknowledge and take into account the concerns of AMC, and look forward to having a substantial, genuine, and constructive dialogue on the issues of the EUDR,” it concluded.