Kochi: The United Planters Association of South India (UPASI) has urged the Union Government not to accept demands from any quarters to remove import duty for natural rubber. In a statement on Tuesday, UPASI president A.E. Joseph said "any such move to reduce the import duty will be detrimental to the interest of 13.1 lakh rubber growers and 4.93 lakh workers dependent on this agro indusry. Importantly, it is a question of livelihood of rubber growers and the workers vis-à-vis the profit margins of a few in the consuming sector".
Tyre companies, the main consumers of natural rubber, have demanded nil import duty for natural rubber. At present natural rubber import attracts 25 percent duty or Rs 30 per kg whichever is lower.
Mr. Joseph has also pointed out that natural rubber [dry form] was the only plantation commodity wherein the bound rate was fixed at a very low level of 25 percent. The base duty of dry forms of natural rubber in the base year  under WTO framework was 85 per cent (above the threshold level of 40 per cent) and hence should have been bound at 40 per cent according to the norms. The fixation of lower bound rates for the dominant dry forms of natural rubber thus was not only regressive but also an explicit violation of the standard norms fixed by the government.
Import of natural rubber to the country has increased manifold in the past years to touch a record high of 582,351 tonnes in 2018-19 resulting in a foreign exchange outflow of Rs 6,127.7 crore. The cut in import duty will only add to the trend of rise in imports....