Monday, December 10, 2012

French Colonialism - Indochina and Rubber

Rubber Tree Plantation, Indochina, 1931
Around 1900, rubber trees were exported little from Indochina (only about a few hundred metric tons). At this time, France saw the importance of this resource to their empire and aimed to increase exportation; the French minister of colonies said that rubber was of great interest to French colonies overseas. With French scientific aid, France experienced a rubber boom between the mid 1920's and 1938. The depression in the 1930's created problems for Indochina's rubber market and rubber workers levied for a four franc tax per kilogram on rubber imported from outside the French empire. A report suggested that this tax was necessary because former rubber workers that were out of work would threaten the social and political stability of the Indochina colony, something that the French government feared. There was also opposition to French owned plantations in Indochina. Despite the poor economic conditions, by the late 1930's, Indochina was exporting over 60, 000 metric tons of rubber trees and in the agricultural sector, it was the greatest exported product next to rice. At this point, France had reached their goal of self sufficiency as Indochina's rubber tree exports fulfilled the French empire's need for rubber.

Michitake Aso. "The Scientist, the Governor, and the Planter: The Political Economy of Agricultural Knowledge in Indochina During the Creation of a "Science of Rubber," 1900-1940." East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal 3, no. 2 (2009): 231-256. (accessed December 5, 2012).

"The Origins of French Rubber Plantations in South Vietnam and Indochina," accessed December 9, 2012,

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