Tyres and opium. Discuss.
Bet you are wondering how I am going to link these two topics….
Well, recently, a friend of ours came to visit – he had just spent 10 years working and living in the Peoples Demorcatic Republic of Lao.
PDR Lao, is a small, very poor country bordering China, Thailand Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. I was telling him about CarbonBlack and he mentioned he had heard that there was a lot of Chinese investment in northern Lao in rubber plantations.
Well that got me Googling and sure enough it’s true. It is projected that China will outstrip the US, the worlds largest rubber consumer by 2020, largely because of its’ car industry – the number of private vehicles is estimated to increase from 22 million in 2006 to 140 million in 2020.
There are a few debates about whether what is happening in PDR Lao is good for the farmers but interestingly, rubber could be an economically viable alternative to the opium, the main cash crop which used to be grown in these areas.