MALAYSIA/WORLD: Malaysia continues global rubber glove market domination

Malaysia continues to dominate the world rubber gloves market by capturing about 60.8% of total world exports last year and is clearly ahead of its closest competitors. It is followed by Thailand at 16.8%, China 6.7% and Indonesia 5.1%, a conference was told on 29 Sept.

Last year, Malaysia's export earnings from rubber gloves amounted to RM7.15 billion and this is expected to grow to RM25 billion by 2020.

In the first half of this year, 72% of Malaysia's rubber glove exports were natural rubber (NR) gloves and 28% synthetic rubber (SR) gloves, said Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (MREPC) deputy chief executive officer Dr Abdul Kadir Mohamed.

While the global rubber glove exports in terms of value dipped slightly to US$4.1 billion last year compared with US$4.3 billion in 2008, he noted that the quantity exported during the period under review rose to 69.8 billion pairs from 63 billion previously.

"This indicates that the rubber gloves industry is somewhat recession proof and not badly affected by the global economic slowdown,” Kadir said at the final day of the 5th International Rubber Glove Conference and Exhibition organised in Kuala Lumpur by the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association.

He expects the world demand for rubber gloves to remain robust in the short and long term despite the slow recovery in the global economies.

Currently, the European Union (EU) is the world's largest importer of rubber gloves followed by the United States.

"The EU has taken over the US as the world's largest importer of rubber gloves since 2007, importing about 68% of the total world rubber gloves production,” added Kadir.

On future trends, he cited the rising demand for nitrile gloves and the increasing preference for powder-free gloves in the world major consuming markets.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) senior economist No Dock Moung who presented a paper on Demand and supply trend and forecast of NR and SR and the effects on the glove industry on behalf of IRSG secretary-general Dr Stephen Evans, said world rubber consumption was expected to post a 12% growth to 23.7 million tonnes from 21.1 million tonnes last year.

He based the growth assumption on, among others, the tyre and vehicle sector data, crude oil forecast, synthetic rubber data and the demand for SR and NR.

By 2020, the IRSG estimated world rubber consumption to hit 31.5 million tonnes, of which tyres would take up 19.8 million tonnes and general rubber goods about 11.7 million tonnes.

Evans also said between 2005 and 2008, there had been an increase in total new planting areas in the Asia-Pacific to over one million hectares.

"The current high market price for NR may stimulate further surge in new planting areas (like what happened in the 2005-2008 period).

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)