China's natural rubber demand will steadily increase over the coming years, and its imports of natural rubber will rise in the next year, said an official with the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Metals and Mineral Products.
Zhou Chun, an official from the chamber said at the on-going 96th Guangdong Trade Fair that as the world largest natural rubber consumer and importer, China still faces increasing domestic
demand due to its booming automobile industry, which will drive imports to a new high.
An important industrial material, natural rubber is widely used in many fields. In China, most natural rubber is imported for making tires. China made more than 4.4 million cars in 2003,
producing 40 percent more demand for natural rubber.
Zhou said China's tire industry is still running at a very low level. As a result, more and more international giant tire producers have invested in China and expanded their market shares, producing a surging demand for imported natural rubber.
In addition, as the price of China's domestic natural rubber, which is even higher than the world average, continues to rise, more and more Chinese companies choose to import natural rubber, said Zhou.
Customs statistics show that in the first eight months of this year, China imported a total of 800,000 tons of natural rubber, a four-percent increase over the same period of last year. Most of the imports are from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
China has been the world's largest natural rubber importer and consumer since 2001. In 2003, China consumed 1.8 million tons of natural rubber and produced 500,000 tons.
China can only produce seven percent of world's total, but consumes over 20 percent of world total.