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What futures for the natural rubber commodity chain?

Sainte-Beuve J., De Lattre-Gasquet M., Omont H., Penot E., Laburthe P., De Livonnière H.. 2000. In : The rubber industry entering a decade of changes : Proceedings of the International Rubber Forum 2000, Antwerp, Belgium, 9-10 November 2000. London : IRSG, p. 103-117. Assembly of the International Rubber Study Group. 39, 2000-11-09/2000-11-10, Anvers (Belgique).

For the last three years, the natural rubber commodity chain has been going through turbulent times, with a drop in natural rubber prices, stocks cumulated here and there, and the disappearance of INRO. Paradoxically, the experts are forecasting a shortage in the near future. This forecast is based on the hypothesis that natural rubber is a technically unavoidable material, especially for tyres; it is also based on the increasing demand seen for tyres, and lastly on the fact that production, which is concentrated in Asia, is handicapped by competition from other activities, be they agricultural or not. Faced with such uncertainty, two approaches can be taken: - forecasting, which sees the future as a continuation of current trends, - a foresight exercise, which considers several possible futures, analyses trends and, lastly, constructs scenarios. The originality of the latter approach, when compared to forecasting studies, lies in the consideration of a multiplicity of possible futures, all as uncertain as each other. It is based on retrospective studies that enable us to structure our knowledge of the past, revealing factors that determine future developments and bringing to light trends and possible breaks with those trends. It therefore proposes a range of possible futures, in the form of scenarios, which enable stakeholders in the commodity chain to envisage changes, prepare for them and act to promote the developments they wish to see.

Mots-clés : caoutchouc; hevea brasiliensis; industrie du caoutchouc; technique de prévision; tendance; aide à la décision; offre et demande; consommation; circuit de commercialisation; politique de la production; durabilité; caoutchouc naturel; filière

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