FOREIGN TRADE: Rubber & Spices

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Within weeks, perhaps within days, foreign traders will know the answer to a question they have mulled for three and a half years: how long would it take after war's end for raw materials from the Orient to reach the U.S.? Some guesses last week:

Rubber. Plenty of natural rubber is expected to reach the U.S. before long. Rubber producers believe they will find upwards of 200,000 tons of crude rubber ready for shipment when they return to their plantations. One reason: it would have been physically impossible for the Japs to trudge through the thousands of square miles of jungles hacking every tree to destruction.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s chairman, Paul Weeks Litchfield. predicted that 350,000 tons of crude rubber would be available within a year, 900.000 tons in two years. Rubber processing machinery is on the way to Goodyear's Pathfinder Plantation on Mindanao where a trickle of rubber was produced during the Jap occupation (TIME, May 21).

Tin. It will be a year at least before much tin reaches the U.S. Dutch and British tin-mine operators do not know for sure whether the Japs have wrecked mining machinery, dredges and smelters. But to be safe, they are prepared to place orders for millions of dollars worth of equipment.

Some open-pit mining of tin ore can be resumed as soon as the Japs move out.

But large-scale operations will be stalled by a lack of equipment and labor.

Tea. Small quantities of China's rare and delicately flavored teas may reach the U.S. before Christmas. Dutch tea experts are en route to India, will move soon to the Netherlands East Indies.

Spices. Except for a temporary lack of shipping, most such easily gathered Indies commodities as pepper, nutmeg, cassia, cinnamon and cloves should soon be moving in world trade again.