International Rubber Regulation Agreement
The International Rubber Regulation Agreement was a 1934 accord between the United Kingdom, India, the Netherlands, France and Thailand that formed a cartel of major rubber producing nations to restrict global rubber production and maintain a stable, high price for natural rubber.
Demand for rubber declined sharply after World War I resulting in the British enacting the Stevenson Plan in 1922 to restrict the supply of rubber to support rubber prices and ensure the profitability of British rubber plantations in the Far East. However, the plan had many flaws and was abandoned in 1928. By 1928 the plan both irritated the United States and lacked apparent purpose. Demand for rubber was robust due to expanded use of the automobile in the United States.
After the stock market crash of 1929 the Great Depression hit the United States and rubber demanded once again softened. It was in this context that the International Rubber Regulation Agreement was implemented.
The Agreement was enacted in 1934 between the United Kingdom, India, the Netherlands, France and Thailand to restrict the rubber supply in accordance with the decline of rubber prices to maintain rubber prices and profitability of rubber producing firms. The agreement both prevented establishment of new rubber plantations and placed production restrictions on existing plantations. The agreement in effect formed a cartel of rubber producing nations that neglected the needs of rubber consuming nations, most notably the United States and Japan.
The United States responded by: establishing rubber plantations in territories under its control; conducting research into rubber-producing plants that thrive in the United States' climate; and reinvigorated efforts to replace natural rubber in tires with a synthetic. In the Fordlandia venture, Henry Ford failed in an attempt to produce rubber in Brazil. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company developed plantations in the Philippines and Costa Rica and Harvey Firestone developed plantations in Liberia.
Research into synthetic rubber was limited by lack of knowledge of the chemical structure of rubber compounds until after 1945. DuPont had developed neoprene in the 1920s in response to the Stevenson Plan, but neoprene was too costly for making tires. During this period the International Rubber Research & Development Board and the Research Association of British Rubber Manufacturers were founded.
- International Rubber Research & Development Board
- History of Natural Rubber (Part 3)
- The Story of Rubber:Supply and Demand
- Paul R. Samuelson, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SYNTHETIC RUBBER PROGRAM 1941–1955, Working Paper MIT-EL 76-027WP, Energy Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139 (November, 1976)
- Stephanie Po-yin Chung, Surviving Economic Crises in Southeast Asia and Southern China: The History of Eu Yan Sang Business Conglomerates in Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong,Modern Asian Studies 36, 3, pp. 579–617. Cambridge University Press (2002, United Kingdom)