by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by BLOOMBERG
MALAYSIA’S rubber exports have reached an all-time high of RM71 billion in 2021, an increase of 46.3% compared to RM48.5 billion in 2020.
According to Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC), in 2021, latex goods contributed 91.8% of the total rubber products exports, with rubber gloves remaining the leader of the pack, contributing 88.9% of the total rubber products exports at RM54.8 billion, an increase of 55.4% over the same period in 2020 at RM35.3 billion.
This is followed by industrial rubber goods, an increase of 40.7% amounting to RM1.3 billion compared to the same period in 2020 at RM0.9 billion. Exports of tyres showed an increase of 30.7% at RM1.7 billion, compared to RM1.3 billion in 2020, while footwear and general rubber goods recorded an increase of 19.6% and 13%, respectively.
Other latex (non-gloves) products indicated lower growth at 7.3% as strong expansion in latex thread (47.4%) was offset by contractions in catheters, condoms, and foam products.
MRC CEO Nor Hizwan Ahmad said, “We will also seek new markets in countries such as India, Africa and Latin America, in addition to the US and Europe, because of their greater populations and promising commercial prospects.”
It is, thus, predicted that these countries will become a major force in driving future market expansion.
“The demand is largely driven by the global annual consumption of medical examination and surgical gloves from the healthcare industry, as well as the greater demand for cleanroom gloves from manufacturing industries,” said Nor Hizwan.
The US, Europe and Japan dominated the global consumption market for rubber products, accounting for about 50% of it.
Last year, the US imported RM22.8 billion worth of Malaysian rubber products, an increase of 76.5%. Germany’s imports amount to RM3.79 billion (57.9%), Japan’s RM3.2 billion (40.5%), the Netherlands at RM1.76 billion (57%) and Italy at RM1.2 billion (42.2%) compared to 2020.
Other major countries, such as Canada, which showed an increase of 70.1%, and Brazil (52.8%), are catching up.
Nor Hizwan also added that MRC is driving market expansion through global and domestic promotion, commercialisation and investment, capacity building and talent development.
Among the activities outlined to enhance the visibility of Malaysia Rubber products globally are participation in international trade shows, working visits, business matching, international seminars, ministerial missions and conferences.
The most recent participation was during the Arab Health Exhibition held from January 24-27, 2022, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in which MRC successfully facilitated 98 business matches with prospective buyers with a total sales of RM110.5 million.
Nor Hizwan highlighted the importance of participating in such events to promote sustainable Malaysian rubber products and enhance the awareness of the international market about the high quality of our products.
He said it is timely for the rubber products industry to plan and implement a growth strategy beyond the pandemic.
“MRC is looking into new ventures based on market demands. For example, engineered rubber products, including seismic bearings, can be promoted to countries affected by earthquakes such as Indonesia, Turkey and Egypt,” he added.
Nor Hizwan further said that retreading materials and rubber automotive components can be promoted to countries where the automotive industry is growing.
“Vietnam and Brazil are among the countries that can adopt our tyre retreading solutions for their commercial vehicles,” he said.
“Pakistan is also a market that can be penetrated as their healthcare industry is showing growth, hence, an opportunity for us to further promote our rubber medical devices such as medical gloves and foley catheters,” said Nor Hizwan.
He said with the government support and industry players’ commitment, MRC will ensure that issues and challenges within the rubber industry are also addressed.