Rubber and the Philippines
FOR more than twenty years strong arguments have been advanced in favor of planting rubber in the Philippines. Yet of more than 4,000,000 acres of rubber planted during that time, less than 3,000 acres can be credited to the Philippines. Americans, after investigating the Philippines but finding the conditions not sufficiently attractive, invested over $30,000,000 in this period in rubber plantations in Malaya and Sumatra and now own there nearly 100,000 acres of planted rubber.
The United States consumes 70 percent of the total production of crude rubber. Due to restriction on exports from the British colonies for the past three years, world consumption has exceeded production by 150,000 tons. With full production from the British colonies from now on, the total planted area in the Middle East is estimated to be capable of supplying the full normal physical requirements for the years 1926, 1927 and 1928. From 1929 on, statistics indicate that consumption will outrun production. It takes five years to bring rubber trees into bearing and at least eight years for full production. By 1933, it is estimated that the world could use 150,000 tons more rubber than will be produced.
The prospective investor naturally will seek regions where climatic and soil conditions are favorable, where costs are likely to be sufficiently low to allow successful competition with present planted areas, where capital will be protected, where economic and political conditions will be stable, and where land tenure regulations will allow possession of areas sufficiently large to meet his needs and for a period long enough to make his investment a good one. Other things being equal, the American investor would prefer territory controlled by his own government.
The only two regions under American control that include areas with climatic conditions favorable to the production of Para rubber are the Canal Zone of Panama and the Philippine Islands. The present regulations concerning the use of lands in the Canal Zone would have to be radically changed before planting could be started and the areas are so small that the highest possible yield would fall short of 10,000 tons annually.