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Thai rubber could find new market in booming sex toy industry

Thailand minister argues that the initiative could generate revenue for its rubber industry

Thai Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said that tapping Thailand's rubber industry could generate trillions of income for Thai people. (Photo credits: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun; JACK TAYLOR/AFP via Getty Images)
Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said that tapping Thailand's rubber industry could generate trillions of income for Thai people. (Photo credits: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun; JACK TAYLOR/AFP via Getty Images)

A Thai minister has suggested a unique way to expanding Thailand’s rubber industry: promoting Thai rubber by tapping into the sex toy market.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (23 February), Thailand's Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Chalermchai Sri-on believes that this approach, under the concept he dubbed “Sex Toy – Made in Thailand”, will raise the value of Thai rubber and generate revenue for the country.

Chalermchai argues that sex toys are about sexual well-being, not just pornography.

“Today we must dare to decide. Should we process rubber into sex toys to make a profit for the country? It’s not just about pornography but also a matter of sexual health,” the minister said.

Chalermchai also said that the global sex toy market was estimated to be worth 1.3 trillion baht (S$50 billion) in 2021. It has grown 300% in the past five years and is expected to reach 2 trillion baht (S$77 billion) by 2030.

"Rubber Valley"

Chalermchai's proposal is aimed at bolstering the income of rubber farmers, as well as developing a rubber industrial estate to systemise production processes. The plan would also involve introducing economic tourism and increasing rubber exports to cover all types of rubber processing.

“We are ready to build an industrial estate called ‘Rubber Valley’ to [systematise] rubber processing and boost rubber exports, which can double up as a tourist attraction. We should process rubber in all ways. Dare to make the change and unlock income for Thai people,” he said.

Chalermchai said that bolstering the sex toy industry could also have social benefits such as less rape and fewer sexually-transmitted diseases cases.

However, the minister’s suggestion would require a radical paradigm shift as Thailand still has existing laws on criminalising promiscuity, which violators of the law could get fined or jailed.

Meanwhile, online users seem to support the minister on the issue. One user on Reddit said: “The Minister is correct in bringing up that although rules are there on sex product and sale, it is an open market sale, hence why not venture into such market too.”

“[N]obody buys a new tire as a gift for themselves or their partner because they’re in the mood for something new or because they noticed some feature that triggered curiosity. Just imagine somebody gifting an extra ribbed moped tire on Valentine’s day. That simply doesn’t happen in the tire industry, but latex gifts/self treats are common in the sex tool industry,” another user said.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and lifestyle writer who focuses on politics, the economy, and pop culture. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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