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MUMBAI, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Rubber imports to India in January and February are likely to fall on year as a sharp drop in local prices in the past three months is deterring local consumers from overseas purchases, a senior industry official said on Tuesday.
However, imports in the financial year ending March 2013 are likely to remain 15 percent higher than the previous year due to higher imports from April to November, said Niraj Thakkar, president of All India Rubber Industries Association.
“Imports are coming down. Like December they will be down at least in January and February. Prices are lower in local market,” Thakkar said.
India’s natural rubber imports in December fell 35.63 percent on year to 13,611 tonnes, the state-run Rubber Board said on Jan. 15.
India imported a record 213,785 tonnes natural rubber in 2011/12, while imports in January and February 2012 stood at 53,424 tonnes.
India’s imports in April to December stood at 168,686 tonnes compared to 137,031 tonnes during the same period a year ago.
Indian tyre makers imported natural rubber aggressively between April to November and that will keep imports on higher side in 2012/13 year ending in March despite a drop in purchases during December to February.
The world’s fourth-biggest natural rubber producer imports tyre making raw material from Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Spot price of natural rubber at Kottayam in India stood at 16,000 rupees ($300)per 100 kg on Tuesday, posting a drop of more than 11 percent in three months. Spot price in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was 16,272 rupees per 100 kg on Tuesday.
India’s synthetic rubber imports in 2012/13 are likely to rise by 17,000 tonnes from last year’s 327,623 tonnes due to strong demand from automotive industry, Thakkar said.
The south Asian country fulfils its two-third of synthetic rubber requirement from imports. ($1 = 53.8650 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by James Jukwey)