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Raw materials

Access to know-how and raw materials are the fundamental elements of a competitive manufacturing industry. While we are somewhat self-sufficient in know-how, the story of raw materials is somewhat different. Europe is import-dependent of many crucial raw materials, one of which being the natural rubber whose trade is affected by concentrated suppliers, skyrocketing prices and unprecedented global competition for its supply.

Fair and sustainable supply of raw materials remains a challenge. This topic is here to stay. For example, price volatility in natural rubber markets and a foreseen shortage thereof, a shortage of different oils, ambitious recycling and resource-efficiency targets put forward both by industry itself and the European Commission are but a few examples.

In the beginning of 2011, the Commission named natural rubber as one of the raw materials under the scope of the raw materials policy in its communication on commodity prices and raw materials[1]. This will be of increasing importance as the global demand of our industry for raw materials is likely to continue or even grow given the expected increase in demand for transportation. At the next revision of the list of the critical raw materials, the challenges raised by fair supply of natural rubber should be properly assessed. Supply shortages in some sectors may have consequences which will have effect on strategically important societal sectors such as healthcare, medical science and transport.

[1] COM (2011) 25 on tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials