KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — Exports of rubber glove is expected to increase further amid the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant and Malaysia will ensure a sufficient supply to the world, protecting its market, said the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC).
Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said the variant has not spread into the country but it has affected several countries abroad.
“As we are the main producer of this product, we have seen the export of rubber gloves increase when the world (and our country) is hit by this pandemic.
“This is because of the nature of low supply and high demand, hence we experienced good sales,” she told Bernama after attending a Bernama Bulletin interview programme on Bernama TV in conjunction with the Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia (AKM) 100 Days.
She said the rubber glove industry would not be affected in terms of its production, however the issue of labour shortage was a major problem for industry players.
As such, Zuraida said she had consulted with the Cabinet to come up with a more sustainable mechanism to ensure the country have an adequate supply of foreign workers.
“This will be done from a government-to-government (G-to-G) arrangement directly and this will be our mid-term goals. As for the immediate term, we will try to get foreign workers for the rubber glove factories early next year.
“Malaysia will continue to compete with producer countries such as China and Indonesia but both countries have large populations.
“Malaysia only has a population of 32 million, so it is unlikely that we can produce enough gloves for the global market with limited workers,” she said.
It was reported that shares of rubber glove makers rose yesterday led by Top Glove Bhd due to the Omicron variant.
And on the same day, the World Health Organisation announced that the variant is likely to spread widely.
Meanwhile, Zuraida said Malaysia still needed foreign workers, at least in the next three to five years, especially for the oil palm industry until it had sophisticated mechanisation and more youth participation.
Apart from that, she also said that by using the G-to-G platform, her ministry would provide more information to foreign countries on labour issues in the country, thus refuting allegations of elements of persecution and fraud in both the palm oil and rubber sectors.
“We will also issue a housing policy for workers in oil palm and rubber plantations and with this policy, the houses of foreign workers will be more comfortable, more in line with standard operating procedures and they will feel more comfortable.”
She said the allegations made by non-governmental organisations from the European Union were unfair.
“I will bring this issue to the EU next year and will present the things that Malaysia has implemented so that they are clearer.
“This is important so that outsiders know that Malaysia is a progressive country and not backward,” she said.
As of September 2021, the agri-commodity sector has recorded an export value of RM154.7 billion.
The increase in export value of agri-commodity products was due to higher exports of key products such as palm oil and rubber gloves.
The value of exports of natural rubber and rubber products increased by 88.5 per cent to RM59.1 billion and palm oil by 43.3 per cent to RM74.4 billion.
Meanwhile, timber exports as the third largest export contributor after palm oil and rubber recorded an increase of 1.2 per cent to RM15.9 billion. — Bernama