by BERNAMA / pic by BLOOMBERG
PETALING JAYA – Malaysia is set to retain its position as the world’s number one rubber glove-producing nation in 2022 with export volume likely to expand by between 12 and 15 per cent, according to the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA).
MARGMA president Dr Supramaniam Shanmugam said based on the forecast revision by the association on Dec 4, 2021, Malaysia is expected to supply 65 per cent of the global supply, or 294 billion gloves, this year, followed by China (20 per cent), Thailand (10 per cent) and Indonesia (three per cent).
It anticipated global demand for rubber gloves for the year to be at 452 billion units, or 14,333 gloves used every second.
“As the awareness on hygiene, cleanliness and safety increases globally, we are optimistic that demand will continue to grow as the industry innovates new types of gloves for the use of the food and beverages industry in handling food items, and the semiconductor sector to better protect electrical and electronic components from contamination.
“Besides, the surge in global and aging population including the United States and Japan is likely to result in more nursing homes and housewives utilising more of the disposable gloves,” he said during the association’s Industry Brief 2022 hybrid session here today.
He said MARGMA, however, is not able to provide the projected export revenue value as price movements are constantly volatile.
In the briefing session, Supramaniam noted that MARGMA members are also focusing on five key matters, namely remediation fees to free foreign workers from debts, upgrade of hostels for local and foreign workers, minimum wage to improve the lives of workers, Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) audit, and self-regulation via code of conduct.
“From what was passed at our extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Nov 9, 2019, we took a conscious decision that all members will adopt a ‘Zero Cost Policy’ for the recruitment of foreign workers, which means we will check with the agents on how much we need to pay the agents so that the workers who come into Malaysia are debt-free, among others,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said, glove manufacturing is not a labour-intensive industry as 82-83 per cent of its operations are automated.
Based on a survey in October-November 2021, the industry hires only 1.7 per cent — or nearly 40,000 workers – of the total documented and undocumented foreign workers in the country. The industry employs a total of 69,218 workers and has nearly 19,000 vacancies.
At the same time, Supramaniam said the industry is closely working the TVET (technical and vocational education and training) institutions to equip them with skills and knowledge as well as to recruit and retain local employees for the long term.
On the RM1,500 minimum wage announced by the government, Supramaniam said the association is supportive of this, as some of its members are already paying higher salaries than the minimum wage required by law, although the increase would result in an overall rise in production cost.
He said the minimum wage hike from RM1,200 to RM1,500 is an increase of 25 per cent over the current minimum wage.
“This will result in an overall production cost rising between 1.42 per cent to 2.75 per cent depending on the profile of the workers in each respective factory throughout Malaysia.
“In future, we hope that if there is any more increase to the minimum wage, the government would do it in stages,” he added.
Asked whether the Russia-Ukraine conflict would impact the rubber glove industry, he said these countries represent a small segment of the total market of over 190 countries so the industry is not worried.