Covid-19 gave Malaysian rubber products a lift, govt data shows

Exports of Malaysian rubber gloves and standard rubber have been particularly healthy since March, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported today. — Picture courtesy of Top Glove Corporation
Exports of Malaysian rubber gloves and standard rubber have been particularly healthy since March, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported today. — Picture courtesy of Top Glove Corporation

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — While many other industries were crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s movement control order (MCO), Malaysia’s rubber sector gained an unexpected boost.

Exports of Malaysian rubber gloves and standard rubber have been particularly healthy since March, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported today.

“The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association highlighted that exports of Malaysian rubber gloves are expected to increase 20 per cent to 230 billion pairs by 2020, an increase of 192 billion pairs from previous year,” DOSM said in the second volume of the Malaysia Economic Statistics Review for 2020.

It said global demand for rubber gloves is expected to increase by 15 to 20 per cent compared to the usual demand growth of 8 to 10 per cent.

It noted a similar trend in 2009 during the H1N1 outbreaks, which saw global demand increase by 17 per cent.

“Standard Malaysian rubber dominated the exports with 96.2 per cent, followed by latex concentrate at 3.6 per cent and other types at 0.2 per cent.

“Meanwhile, the highest exports by item in April was rubber gloves with a value of RM1,984.4 million, an increase of 11.6 per cent compared to March,” DOSM said.

The top three export markets for Malaysian rubber gloves were the United States, China and Germany respectively.

At 97,770 tonnes, the US had a 300 per cent surge compared to 24,388 tonnes in March.

Malaysian rubber glove exports also showed an increase in countries with high Covid-19 cases such as Brazil, Spain and Canada.

DOSM said Malaysia’s production of natural rubber in April stood at 34,616 tonnes, growing by 0.3 per cent in comparison with March’s output of 34,506 tonnes.

When compared to the same period last year, growth was two per cent.

“The smallholdings category which contributed 90.7 per cent to the natural rubber production grew 0.4 per cent to 31,389 tonnes as compared to March which was 31,252 tonnes. Contrasting with April last year, the production increased 2.3 per cent for the same month this year.

“Natural rubber stocks increased by 0.5 per cent in April to 321,214 tonnes compared with 319,486 tonnes in March while annual growth shows a significant increase of 75.9 per cent. This marks the highest stocks of natural rubber since 2014,” DOSM said.

Decline in natural rubber

It said Malaysia’s natural rubber exports dropped 10.2 per cent in April with a value of 40,596 tonnes as compared to 45,198 tonnes in March.

“The highest exports of natural rubber was to China at 48.9 per cent, followed by Germany at 12.1 per cent, the United States at 6.2 per cent, Iran at 5.3 per cent, and Taiwan at 3.5 per cent,” DOSM said.

Domestic consumption of natural rubber also slid 11.2 per cent to 39,208 tonnes in April compared to 44,169 tonnes in the same month last year.

On a monthly basis, domestic consumption declined 7.9 per cent from 42,555 tonnes, which contributed to the increase in the stocks of natural rubber.

The most significant drop was due to the tyres and tubes industries, which only used 312 tonnes as compared to 2,438 tonnes last month, making it a 87.2 per cent decrease.

DOSM said the rubber gloves sector dominated at 89.5 per cent with 35,080 tonnes of total domestic consumption in April 2020, followed by rubber thread sector at 5 per cent.

“A total of 10,194 employees in rubber estates was recorded in April, an increase of 0.8 per cent from March, with an annual decrease of 8.7 per cent.

“Directly employed workers stood at 6,525, or 64.0 per cent of the total number of workers in rubber estates, followed by 1,858 or 18.2 per cent contract basis employees,” it said.

In April, rubber estate employees’ salaries and wages registered RM14.0 million, declining by 0.5 per cent from the previous month. Similarly, the salaries and wages also declined 9.0 per cent  to RM15.3 million as compared to the same month last year.

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