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US defunding membership in International Rubber Study Group

From Rubber & Plastics News: The U.S. Department of State is on defunding U.S. participation in Singapore-based International Rubber Study Group effective June 30, despite protests from US companies. The IRSG is an intergovernmental organization based in Singapore that acts as a forum for the world’s rubber producers and consumers. It is the authoritative source of statistical data and analysis for all aspects of the rubber industry, including production, consumption and trade in rubber as well as rubber products. Currently 16 countries and the European Union are contributing members of the IRSG: Belgium, Republic of Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States.

According to R&P News:

The State Department cites the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s unhappiness with the accuracy of IRSG figures as a reason for ending U.S. participation. However, the RMA said it long ago changed its mind and now enthusiastically supports U.S. involvement. According to the State Department, the U.S. formally submitted its intention to withdraw to the IRSG Secretariat Oct. 29. “As producers and consumers of rubber have changed over the years, the relevance of data produced by this organization and the utility of U.S. government participation for U.S. industry has been put into question,” the agency said in a March 22 letter to the Rubber Trade Association of North America. “China, the world’s largest consumer of rubber, is not a member.” Also, no important decisions on NR production are made during IRSG meetings, the State Department said. In the unlikely event that NR supplies to the U.S. are threatened, the agency is prepared to aggressively assure U.S. access, it said.

This decision has huge ramifications for US-based companies that need IRSG data for market research purposes, since the cost of membership rises astronomically for companies in non-member countries. There is no alternate source for these data; the IRSG provides an essential and irreplaceable service to the tire and rubber industry.

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