She said Malaysia's export of tyre and tyre-related products increased 3.3 % to RM 807.3 million in 2012 from previously.
"In 2012, the total world exports of rubber products amounted to USD 148.58 billion (RM 442.4 billion), for which tyres accounted for 62 %.
"There is room for Malaysian exports to grow as our major destinations include China (30.1%), the United States (19.8 %), Germany (4.4 %), Japan (3.8 %), Thailand (3 %), Brazil (2.7 %), the UK (2.6 %) and Australia (2.5 %).
"Now that we have an indication of the size of the market, let us focus on technological advances and demand for greener products to grow exports, she added.
Sta Maria was speaking to reporters after officiating the factory completion ceremony for Toyo Tyre (M) Sdn Bhd in Taiping.
She said competition for the tyre industry would come from technological advancement, environment-friendly production processes, usage and also the treatment of end-of-life tyres.
"One of the most challenging aspects of the tyre business is the ability to overcome environmental related issues. But I also know that much research is being undertaken to reduce the carbon footprint.
"Even as the industry steps up research and development to improve the eco-friendliness of products, recycling and the management of scrap, must be given attention.
"It is estimated that by 2020, about 20 million units of scraped tyres will be disposed per annum in Malaysia. This poses a threat to the environment as well as an opportunity for business. It also calls for both regulators and the industry to work together to come up with approaches that will facilitate the take-back and remanufacture of the end-of-life-tyres, she added.
The application of the Advance Tyre Operation Module technology to produce various types of tyres, as well as eco-tyres at the new facility, should be applauded, she said.
Source: Daily "The Star", Kuala Lumpur; 9 May 2013