Malaysia eyes rubber glove exports worth RM38b

A total of 280b pieces of gloves will be produced by the country, representing 67% of the estimated global supply this year


MALAYSIAN rubber glove industry is expected to export RM38 billion worth of rubber gloves to the global market this year compared to RM35.3 billion exported in 2020, said Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association.

Its president Dr Supramaniam Shanmugam said the global demand for gloves has remained robust, even before Covid-19 pandemic, with an annual growth of 10% to 12%.

He added that a total of 280 billion pieces of gloves will be produced by Malaysia, representing 67% of the estimated global supply of 420 billion gloves for this year.

“This is equivalent to 23.3 billion gloves on a monthly basis. The top five export markets in 2020 were the US, Germany, UK, Japan and China,” he said.

Despite the shortage of raw materials and longer lead time for manufacturers to produce rubber gloves, the industry is expected to remain resilient and optimistic until the second quarter of 2022 (2Q22), Supramaniam said.

“Glove consumption has generally increased vastly over the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the vaccine programmes are being rolled out across all countries, there will be a post-Covid demand for rubber gloves from governments and corporations,” he said at a virtual industry briefing yesterday.

According to Supramaniam, any industry that handles people or is involved in touching surfaces will have a renewed need for rubber gloves this year.

“Industries such as airlines, food and beverage, medical and aged- care will see a new norm of behaviours that require protection in the form of gloves.

“Additionally, stockpiling gloves has not been a priority, but now it will be as the industry is currently producing only enough to fulfil the demand for frontliners and such,” he said.

The association’s president said the revenue’s expected growth is lower than last year, at 8%, due to a shorter lead time and lower average selling prices.

“The long lead time situation is most likely to persist until year-end, but the time to meet orders is shorter at seven months currently, compared to 10 to 12 months in 1Q and 2Q of last year.”

“We do see drivers for growth which include a growing population, healthcare awareness and regulatory requirements across the continents, while manufacturers continue to enhance and improve social compliance standards to stay relevant and competitive,” Supramaniam said.

Meanwhile, he also added that the industry is expected to invest some RM2 billion to RM3 billion this year, which will mostly be used for capacity expansion, research and development, and automation.

“Right now, about 95% of latex comes from Thailand, but our local government has launched initiatives to encourage local enterprises to provide the latex needed instead.

“For example, the Malaysian Rubber Council has allocated RM20 million to stimulate tappers to pro-vide the latex. This will not only solve the issue of raw material shortage but also give tappers a better living standard,” he said.

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