Rubber gloves to maintain double-digit growth

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL 

The global demand for rubber gloves is projected to maintain a double-digit growth of between 12% and 15%, backed by the persisted healthcare demand amid the rolling out of the Covid-19 vaccines, said Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC).

MRC CEO Nurul Islam Mohamed Yusoff said the expectations remain high as Malaysia’s export of rubber products continued to chart an upward trajectory since the beginning of the year.

“The global per capita consumption of rubber gloves is expected to increase to 25 pairs in 2021 driven by higher usage of gloves in major Malaysia’s export markets such as the US and Europe as well as large emerging markets, particularly in the Asian region. 

“Malaysia’s rubber glove industry will maintain its positive momentum and exports are expected to reach a new high for the full year of 2021,” he said in a statement. 

Between Jan and March this year, the revenue of Malaysia’s rubber exports jumped 169.6% to RM21.84 billion from RM8.1 billion made from the same period in 2020.

The downstream rubber products, which formed 89.5% of the total exports of the rubber industry with RM19.54 billion in value, also increased tremendously by 213.8%, driven by the strong increase in the latex goods sector.

Meanwhile, latex goods such as rubber gloves, latex threads and condoms recorded a total increase of 250.6% due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

In the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21), latex goods accounted for 93.7% of total exports of rubber products while dry rubber products accounted for the remaining 6.3%. 

The gloves sub-sector remained the largest export revenue generator for the rubber industry as it increased nearly four-fold or 265.7% to RM17.86 billion in the first three months of 2021.

For dry rubber, the sub-sector had bounced back to record double-digit growth of 22.1% to reach RM1.22 million in 2021 from RM1. billion, after recording a decline in the first quarter of last year due to the pandemic.

The dry rubber products sector includes tyres, industrial rubber goods, general rubber goods, and footwear.

Tyres, which is the largest exports within the dry rubber products sector, recorded RM431.5 million in 1Q21 with an increase of 24.6% compared to RM346.2 million last year. 

Meanwhile, total exports of industrial rubber goods, which comprised of products for the automotive, mining and construction sectors, improved by 29.2% to RM306.3 million in 2021.

Commenting on the prospect of the domestic rubber industry, Nurul Islam said it needs to move up the global value chain while the rubber companies must explore ways for their products to be associated with bigger purposes of which will ultimately gain international recognition.

“Current initiatives are geared towards creating value for Malaysia’s rubber industry to ensure it remains resilient, agile, competitive and sustainable.

“The intended outcome is to elevate the industry up towards the global value chain in ensuring optimising potentials while enhancing the rubber industry to address bottlenecks and governance and reputational challenges,” he said.

He added that MRC will identify and nurture small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly from the dry rubber sector and assist them in exploring the international markets. 

“There are four key areas which gear towards funding and grants, technical support, training and development as well as export marketing and branding that we are implementing and they would be tailored to the needs and potential of the selected companies,” he said.